Lease Dispute Arose Over Outside Events That Park Services Says Run Counter To Its Rules
Thirteen years after it was established at Vancouver's Pearson Field, the Pearson Air Museum in Washington State has been shuttered by the National Park Service over a lease dispute. Moving vans came and went throughout the day Tuesday carrying the museum's artifacts to a storage hangar near the museum space.
The museum is operated by a the Fort Vancouver National Trust, a non-profit organization operating under the auspices of the city of Vancouver. But the land belongs to the National Park Service, which had given the city a lease on the property through 2025 to operate the museum. The museum said that the closure is the result of an unresolved dispute with the National Parks Service regarding park use policy. Trust administrators were asked on Monday to turn over keys to the museum to the park service on Tuesday.
"Because air museum aircraft exhibits are either owned by the Trust or on loan to the Trust, it was not feasible for us to turn this property over to the National Park Service," said Elson Strahan, Trust President and CEO.
In a news release, the museum said "In the coming days, Trust staff will be contacting organizations and individuals with events scheduled at the museum to assist in finding alternative venues. The Trust will be contacting volunteers and contributors to determine how best to move the air museum program forward."
Supporters of the museum have petitioned their local congressional delegation in an effort to get Washington, D.C. involved in resolving the dispute. "The Trust sees this as a loss for the Fort Vancouver National Site and for the community," the news release said. "The Trust will continue to negotiate a suitable way to restore Pearson Air Museum operations."