Letter: Preserving the old hangar
As a member of the Central Minnesota Veterans Historical Council, I have been actively involved in the discussions regarding the use of the John L. Rice Hangar as a potential site for a military museum. The information in the West Central Tribune's editorial "City must complete airport parcel sale" is inaccurate and misleading.
The delay in Willmar's efforts to obtain the federal release of the former municipal airport land is due to the city administration's failure to follow proper procedure and their denial of the fact that that the Federal Aviation Administration and the State Historical Preservation Office has determined that the John L. Rice Hangar is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its associations with John L. Rice and the National Youth Association.
Jonathan Lindstrand and Councilman Jim Dokken are not responsible for the hangar's associations with John L. Rice and the NYA, nor are they responsible for the FAA and the State Historical Preservation Office's awareness of the associations or the pending historical easements. The FAA is obligated by federal law to identify if there is historical significance of the property before the property can be released.
After becoming aware of the historical significance of the property and the pending historical easements, the CMVHC identified the hangar as a potential site for a museum if the pending sale of the property to Bergh's Fabricating is not completed. The city administration has made it perfectly clear to me and the other members of our group that they have no interest in preserving the facility or working with the CMVHC to explore the possibility of using the hangar for a veteran's museum. I commend Dokken and the other council members who have taken the time to listen to our organization's interest in working with the city to preserve and maintain the John L. Rice Hangar.
I am concerned that the West Central Tribune is being used by the city administration to push their agenda and to use inaccurate information to exert political pressure.