Photo of Wil Shellenberger, Museum president

Quoting the title of an old Bee Gees song, your Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum has been “Stayin’ Alive!” Many of you have stepped up to support the museum through the Mid-year Appeal fundraiser. Our quest to obtain land continues with unexpected twists and turns.

After just over two months, the museum re-opened on 24 June with a “new normal” in place. Volunteers worked diligently to ensure compliance with COVID 19 safety restrictions including floor marking, protective shielding at the cashier’s counter, systematic sanitizing of high touch areas, mask wearing, etc. etc. Visitors come in every day but in smaller numbers than in the past. Despite the pandemic, it is clear that museums continue to fill a need in our society. Other aspects of our mission are being fulfilled: artifacts are being cared for, books and documents are being cataloged and historical research is being conducted. Additionally, we were able to collaborate on supporting the Soaring by the Sea Foundation’s flying PBY out of Eugene, OR on its trip to participate in the VJ Day 75th Anniversary Commemoration at Pearl Harbor. It has been a tough six months, but we are Stayin Alive!

After losing the Celebration of Flight (COF) Dinner and Auction fundraiser, the focus shifted to the Mid-Year Fundraising Appeal which just wrapped up on 30 September. The expression of support in response to the Appeal has been tremendous. Although I am writing this before 30 September we already know that our minimum goal of raising $60,000 has been exceeded. A key to this accomplishment was the willingness of COF sponsors, such as Island Thrift, to shift their matching funds from the COF to the Mid-year Appeal. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and all of our volunteers, thank you to our donors for your continuing support.

By this time, we expected to be closing the purchase of two parcels of land on the north side of Oak Harbor. This time it looked like a clear path to a building site. Then the road took a very sharp turn. Engineers determined that a man-made wetland extends across both properties. Effectively the wetland reduced the buildable land size below our minimum requirements. So, the museum withdrew the offers for both properties.

This is the third property that we were in a position to purchase, but have missed out on because of zoning, a higher bid, and now environmental regulations. It has been a frustrating process, but as Jim Siggens lays out in the Chairman’s Corner, we believe in our ultimate success and are pressing on. Tentative discussions are already in progress on another property. We will keep you posted.

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