No takers yet for Hangar One | August 30, 2013 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - August 30, 2013

No takers yet for Hangar One

No sign of Google's expected bid to restore and park its planes in historic structure

by Nick Veronin

While officials with NASA and the U.S. General Services Administration continue their search for someone willing to lease and restore Hangar One, the bones of the hulking structure on Moffett Field are at risk of being damaged by weather and leaving a trail of pollution in the process, according to environmentalists.

It's been a year since the final pieces of toxic siding were stripped from the historic structure in a Navy-led environmental cleanup, which had workers remove the hangar's asbestos-, lead- and PCB-laden shell. After the shell was removed, Navy contractors sprayed the frame down with an epoxy called Carbomastic-15, according to Lenny Siegel, director of the Mountain View-based Center for Environmental Public Oversight.

In theory, the epoxy will keep the structure from eroding and prevent the remaining asbestos, lead and PCBs from seeping into the ground water and the surrounding marsh, Siegel said. However, in order for the coating to remain effective, regular inspections will need to be conducted and touch-ups will have to be applied when cracks in the seal are detected.

Keeping Hangar One's skeleton sealed will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 million over 30 years, a recently released Navy study concluded. The problem, according to Siegel, is that the Navy has tried to shift the burden of paying for that maintenance off onto NASA.

At a public meeting hosted by the Navy on Aug. 22, NASA officials and members of the local community, including Siegel, pushed the Navy to pick up the tab for ensuring Hangar One's skeletal seal remains intact.

Siegel said he thinks the Navy should pay whomever ends up leasing Hangar One to conduct maintenance of the structure.

Just who that might be is anyone's guess. At the moment, no one is stepping forward.

In March, NASA and the GSA opened a competitive bidding process — issuing a request for proposals with the intent of finding a "qualified lessee to provide for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic Hangar One."

As yet, no proposals have been received, according to David Haase, branch chief of utilization and realty services with the GSA. The deadline for proposals, which was initially set for Sept. 30 has been been pushed back to Oct. 16.

In late 2011, Google offered to foot the bill for Hangar One's restoration in exchange for a long-term lease and permission to house its fleet of private jets there. Google currently keeps its planes on Moffett Field in a separate hangar, and officials with the company have said they would prefer to remain at the Mountain View airfield.

But the search giant was essentially turned down after NASA and the White House made no formal response to the proposal. Google has since inked a deal to move its fleet to the Mineta San Jose International Airport.


Like this comment
Posted by Bill Hough
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2013 at 10:48 am

Is anyone really surprised that there are no takers on this? An offer by the H211 to step up to preserve the hangar should have removed the cost argument from the discussion. You’d think that NASA would jump at the chance at free money to make this PR nightmare go away but you would be wrong.

NASA’s behavior sums up what’s wrong with government. An offer was made for private funding to re-skin the hangar. Paying for the re-skinning was the sticking point in the discussions Then money comes along, and what does NASA do? Stall, diddle and procrastinate. This is why people hate government.

Since the summer of 2005, the Navy's position concerning Hangar One was made clear at many public meetings in the Mountain View area. For the past eight years, the reaction from the public continues to be strongly in favor of restoring the Hangar. Despite overwhelming public support for the hangar, a federal buck-passing exercise has been going on for almost a decade. Both the Navy and NASA have been metaphorically tossing the restoration of the hangar around like a hot potato. Everyone gives lip service to restoring the hangar but nobody wants to pay for it. It’s a national disgrace that NASA and the Navy have been blowing off fixing Hangar One.

A proper Restoration Alternative would involved re-skining Hangar One in addition to all of the environmental work described in Alternative 2-Implementation of Institutional Controls. As described in the July 2013 newsletter, the Navy's Alternative 2 is fundamentally flawed. It justifies an already-reached conclusion by ignoring the community's strong desire to see the hangar preserved as stated at numerous public forums since 2005. It's time to discard Alternative 2 and prepare an Alternative 3 that meets the joint goals of protecting the environment and preserving history. These goals need not be mutually exclusive.