When Marine One touches down at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport this weekend, Geoff Freeman will be standing on the tarmac, communicating with the Secret Service and helping to make sure everything goes smoothly for the arrival of the Island’s most distinguished visitors.

“It’s pretty seamless,” said Mr. Freeman, who began working at the airport fueling planes in 1995 and has helped orchestrate a number of presidential visits since the 1990s. “They know what they are doing,” he said of the servicemen and government employees who descended on the Island this week. “Whatever they need, we help them out.”

Manager Ann Crook is now in the pilot's seat at the airport. — Jeanna Shepard

It’s one routine that has put the Island’s commercial airport on the map, although President Obama and his family aren’t the only well-known visitors whose Island vacations begin on the tarmac.

“I’m struggling to be totally professional and cool and not starstruck,” said Ann Crook, who took over as airport manager in May. On a recent tour of the airport, she looked out over a field of private planes and jets parked in the sun. “I’m sure all of these people are bigwigs of some variety,” she said, although she sees the Island as a sort of equalizer when it comes to fame and fortune. “When people come here they don’t want to be famous,” she said. “They are on vacation. They just want to go about their business.”

Even when the big corporate jets come to a stop, she said, “It’s people in shorts and flip-flops with their kids and their dogs. They’re coming here to have a fun time, and it’s impossible not to feel that joy and relief.”

The one-square-mile airport on the border of Edgartown and West Tisbury plays a vital role in the local economy, second only to the Steamship Authority, by providing another way on and off the Island and hosting a number of businesses. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation estimates indirect benefits of 1,232 jobs and more than $120 million in local economic activity. Major changes at the airport since last year have many taking stock of the airport’s value to the Island and looking toward the future.

Control tower is command central for landings and takeoffs. — Jeanna Shepard

The airport provides services such as refueling and taxiing, and is home to a large business park, making it somewhat unique. Private planes account for about half the overall traffic — including 132 small aircraft (and one helicopter) that stay year-round. Several major airlines serve the Vineyard in the summer, carrying passengers from all over the world. But even so, only about five per cent of the people who travel to the Vineyard arrive on a plane.

“It’s a lot more convenient for them to take the boat,” said Mr. Freeman, who was recently promoted to assistant manager and hopes to increase year-round traffic at the airport. “I think they need more options,” he said. “Right now it’s Cape Air in the off season, so it’s very limited.” He also hopes to draw more visitors from the Philadelphia and Baltimore areas, which already account for much of the seasonal traffic on the Island, and to eventually improve customer service with a larger staff.

The number of passengers on commercial flights at the airport declined greatly from 2000 to 2010, from around 71,953 to 34,740, according to airport data and the 2015 Martha’s Vineyard Transportation Plan. Traffic increased after 2010, but is still no greater than it was in the 1980s. Air travel in general declined after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, although the changes were more gradual on the Island. The regional transportation plan, prepared every four years by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, attributes the decline more to changes in commercial service than to fears of terrorism.

In recent months, the airport’s focus has been mostly inward. Ms. Crook arrived during a major upheaval that involved the forced resignation of former manager Sean Flynn, whose tenure was marked by ongoing legal battles with the Dukes County Commission, which appoints the airport commissioners. (The airport is owned by the county.) The disputes go back at least a decade, but reached a climax around 2014 when communication between the two boards broke down completely.

Passenger traffic has fallen in recent decades. — Jeanna Shepard

Troubled by what they saw as a lack of transparency and due process at the airport, the county eventually succeeded in appointing several new commissioners, who began changing the culture from the inside out. Among them was Myron Garfinkle, a pilot and airport patron, now chairman of the commission, who recalled meeting with Federal Aviation Administration officials last summer to discuss a series of deficiencies that had come to light.

“They expressed extreme displeasure with various parts of our relationship,” he said — especially ongoing delays in replacing the dilapidated aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) building on the property. “We were going to lose the ability to have commercial traffic at the airport, so we tried our hardest to step in and address those deficiencies.” That meant taking on a more executive role, he added, and creating a professional culture the FAA could feel good about. Commissioners negotiated a severance package with Mr. Flynn, hired Ms. Crook, and promoted three respected employees to top positions.

The new leadership has thrown water on the fire, airport employes and commissioners agreed this week, and by all accounts the airport appears to be heading for clear skies. “Everyone here is basically learning their job,” said Ms. Crook, sitting behind her desk in a largely undecorated office just yards from the tarmac, where planes taxied into position and workers greeted the new arrivals. “So we’ve got extra challenges this year, and that applies to the airport commission as well. They are brand new.”

Looking ahead, she sees her role mostly as helping to rebuild relationships — within the airport, around the Island and in the regulatory community. “We’ve already gotten excellent feedback from FAA and TSA [Transportation Security Administration] that they’re delighted with the changes and the transparency,” she said. “It’s a whole span — from little things like when they call with a question they get and answer and we’ll tell them what we are doing; an honest and clear answer. From that up to the bigger things.”

Others agreed that it was a time of new beginnings.

Private and public airlines carry passengers to the Vineyard from all over the world. — Jeanna Shepard

“It wouldn’t have happened without the county,” said Richard Michelson, another appointee who recalled the communication breakdown in recent years. “If they hadn’t recommended that things needed to change up there, I don’t think this would have been possible.” He added that the new leadership has helped create a sense of unity among the 14 full-time staff members by encouraging them to voice their concerns.

“I think that the airport has really turned a corner,” said county commissioner Tristan Israel, who helped navigate the changing of the guard last year. “It’s being run very professionally, and they certainly are working hard to communicate with the county.”

Since May, the airport has closed out two FAA grants (for the ARFF building design and snow removal equipment), which Ms. Crook said is one measure of the airport’s performance. Just this week, it also received an $8.3 million FAA grant to construct the new ARFF building — yet another sign of progress. “The fact that we took the design grant in 2011 and now it’s five years later and we still haven’t built a building, that’s been a big problem with the FAA,” Ms. Crook said.

At 20,000 square feet, the new building will double the existing footprint and be able to house the airport’s two fire trucks and snow-removal equipment. Standing beside the massive yellow fire trucks last week — each one equipped with foam and water to extinguish fires — operations specialist Marques Rivers gave Ms. Crook a high-five when she correctly identified the foaming concentrate, known as aqueous film-forming foam.

Operations specialist Marques Rivers. — Jeanna Shepard

“Nice!” he said.

Back at the terminal, another employee greeted Ms. Crook with a smile and a fist bump.

The small staff of 14 (all from the Island) climbs to about 30 in the summer, when air traffic picks up considerably. Mr. Freeman said it’s a warm group, although the top management tends to set the mood for everyone. In recent years, he said, the airport was not a fun place to be. “A lot of walls were put up,” he said.

But as one measure of the changing culture, Ms. Crook said she had been proud to welcome back a former employee who had quit due to the negative environment. “That just made me feel good in my heart — that this guy, who was obviously trained, had a good record, did a good job, wanted to come back,” she said. “That’s a good sign to me.”

Mr. Freeman strives to stay in touch with the hundreds of airport tenants — including those in the business park — on a regular basis. “They can go to a commission meeting, be put on the agenda and speak or call with a question,” he said, noting that just a few months ago that wasn’t the case. “It was very adversarial,” he said.

Operations specialists make up most of the year-round staff, and do everything from parking and refueling to snow plowing and firefighting. That includes wildlife management, which became something of an issue last fall when deer were discovered roaming around inside the perimeter fence. Air traffic was suspended for a daylong hunt, which eliminated two of the deer.

Geoff Freeman began fueling planes in 1995; now he is assistant manager. — Jeanna Shepard

“We are still working on that issue,” Ms. Crook said.

Other projects in the near future include completing a long-overdue master plan and expanding the airport business park. Mr. Michelson, who chairs the commission’s land-use planning subcommittee, noted a significant uptick in business park proposals this year, and a revival of the former business park association, which had languished under the previous administration. “We have a lot going on here,” he said.

Once the master plan is approved by the FAA, the airport hopes to free up a large area previously designated for flight uses only. Mr. Garfinkle plans to advocate for installing up to five megawatts of solar power at the site. He saw the business park as an opportunity to relieve some of the summer congestion in downtown areas by hosting retail or light-industrial businesses that might not be appropriate anywhere else.

“If we could ever get some traffic out of the Triangle [in Edgartown] and bring it over to the business park, we’d be a hero,” he said. He plans to present the various initiatives to the public in the coming weeks.

“We are in the process now of really beginning, for the first time in quite a few years, to reach out to the public,” he added. As one example, he pointed to a recent “hangar party” (the first in many years), hosted by longtime airport patron Peter Rogers, who built many of the hangars on the property. For one evening in July, tenants, employees, commissioners and pilots put the past behind them and celebrated the present. Mr. Garfinkle said it would be an annual event.