Clark County Commissioner David Madore has a new option for the Pearson Air Museum that he’s curious to explore.
He wants to know if the museum and land could be transferred from the National Park Service to the county government, according to a post on his Facebook page.
“Several months ago, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced HR-716 to return Pearson Air Museum and the 7 acres of surrounding land from the National Park Service back to the city of Vancouver,” he said on his page. “To her surprise, after originally supporting the bill, the Vancouver City Council reversed their position and rejected the transfer back to the city.”
The city bowed out of the effort, led by Herrera Beutler, to transfer the museum and land to its control in early May. The city cited the potential financial burden the museum could impose.
And the Fort Vancouver National Trust, the nonprofit that previously ran the museum, stopped working on the transfer after the city bowed out, said Steve Horenstein, board chairman.
Madore discussed the issue with him a few months ago, Horenstein said, but the trust has no plans to go forward with advocating a new plan to retake control of the museum.
“He called me about that but it’s been quite a while now,” Horenstein said. “The trust has nothing to do with this.”
If the county took over the museum, it could be transferred to management by Clark County Parks, Madore wrote on his page.
“There is an alternative,” the first-term Republican continued. “This historic site can potentially be transferred to Clark County rather than Vancouver city. Our staff has been researching the cost and logistics of that transfer and should advise us of their findings shortly.”
Casey Bowman, Herrera Beutler’s spokesman, said in an email that the Republican congresswoman would be interested in investigating the arrangement.
“Jaime stands ready to restore the Pearson Air Museum and would welcome further details on this proposal,” Bowman said. “If it’s a well-vetted plan that’s supported by the involved local parties and residents of this region, and the finances pencil out, she would support it.”
The National Park Service took over management of the Pearson Air Museum in February 2013 after lingering issues couldn’t be resolved between it and the Fort Vancouver National Trust, which had operated the museum for several years.
The museum had been set up to run as a collaborative endeavor between the Park Service, the city and the trust through 2025. That partnership broke down over the past few years mainly because of disputes over events policy.
The trust still controls or owns most of the historic airplanes and exhibits that were used in the museum before the Park Service took over.
Horenstein said he didn’t know Madore was going to bring the subject up on Facebook, but that he thinks the politician is just seeing how the idea fares in the community.
“We’ve moved on,” Horenstein said of the trust. “We’re not going to get in another effort to do that.”
Lauren Dake of The Columbian contributed to this story.