Once a wasteland of mismanagement and neglect, the airport business park — under new leadership — is shaping up and filling up. And, with plans to polish the park’s image already under way, the business park will prove an appropriate addition to the much anticipated new terminal complex.
Under the leadership of county manager Carol Borer and airport commission chairman Marc Villa, the airport has standardized business park leases, its application procedures and billing practices. A cleanup of the business park junk yard — long considered an eyesore — will conclude this month and a fence designating the business park entrance will be installed this week; a business park sign and directory will follow.
“In the past there’s been a lot of neglect. No one paid attention to what was going on at the business park,” said Peter Rogers, president of the airport business park tenant’s association. “With the new leadership now, there’s follow through. Everything gets followed up. I’m very optimistic about what’s going on both at the business park and at the airport in general.”
Mrs. Borer, who has been on the job as county manager since September, was put in charge of managing the park after business park manager retired. She laughs as she remembers the disorganized state of affairs in which she found the business park.
“Everyone had a different lease. Everyone had different terms, different property descriptions, different rates, different rights about whether they could sublet or could not sublet,” said Mrs. Borer. “Some of them had a consumer price index, some of them didn’t. Some parts of the leases were handwritten... There was no consistency.”
A good deal of time was spent just organizing the office, she said.
“I had to review every single file, all the leases,” Mrs. Borer said. “There were multiple files on one property, while there were no files in the office on others.”
No longer are tenants coming in allowed to haphazardly install septic systems. Tenants have to draw up a septic plan much the same way they would if applying for house permit. A lease is awarded only after David Kahn, operator of the wastewater treatment facility, signs off on the plan.
“I think some of the tenants probably feel I’m a little too by the book,” said Mrs. Borer. “But there are others out there saying they are very happy because there’s consistency and fairness.”
Whereas before tenants could go the whole year without paying rent, now they are responsible for paying on a monthly basis. And rents have been standardized using a business park appraisal conducted in the early 1990s; rents are affordable: 25 cents a square foot for a utility lot and 37 cents a square foot for a retail lot. 
The idea behind the business park, first conceived of in the mid-1980s, is that land has to be set aside for year-round businesses serving important Island needs or if a lack of affordable space to operate will force them from to leave the Vineyard. Vineyard Propane and MV Storage were the first businesses to move in in 1984; the second wave of development didn’t occur until the mid-1990s. Now, the lots that are still available are in high demand. Currently, just over half of the 38 business park lots are full. The airport commission recently awarded another five; Mrs. Borer has plans to advertise four more in July. 
Since the business park was never intended to be pedestrian-friendly, the businesses choosing to locate there tend to be service oriented with large storage needs. There are, for example, Vineyard Bottled Waters, Cars Unlimited, Mobil Gas, Danielle and Rogers Plumbing, Coca Cola and Cape Cod Express. Recently, the airport commissioners approved a proposal for a fitness facility; other interested businesses include a pool company, a bank and a car dealer.
“In other locations the idea of a business park is to generate as much revenue for the town or city as it can,” said Mr. Villa. “In our case we have a very finite amount of property to deal with and we have some obligation to keep it affordable. So we have to methodically build out the business park and not push it. It’s sort of a tightrope walk because it’s very popular and it’s very needed.”
Mr. Villa said he expects the business park to reach build-out in about four years. Mrs. Borer thinks that there may be only one to two lots left as early as the year 2000.
“It’s developing faster now than it has been in the last few years,” she said.
The Vineyard business park will experience other changes in the coming week. Two different sections of thirty-foot-long white fencing will funnel traffic into the Barnes Road turnoff. The airport commission also recently approved the final design for a sign to be installed at the Barnes Road turnoff to the business park. The sign will show an airplane flying against a blue background, with the words Airport Business Park painted in white with black outline. A ladder-style directory is in the works as are plans for single white post markers for each individual lot.  
“We don’t want 40 signs out on the road,” said Mr. Rogers. “We don’t want the business park to look like Wareham.”
In response to confusion voiced by new tenants trying to get set up, Mrs. Borer created a chronological checklist showing tenants how and when to go about acquiring specific permits. She has even compiled a list of indigenous plants that tenants may use for landscaping.