The Federal Aviation Administration has given the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission a strict deadline of Dec. 31 to finish designing an aircraft rescue and firefighting facility that is already years behind schedule. The edict followed an August 26 meeting, in which commission chairman Myron Garfinkle and vice-chairman Robert Rosenbaum were called to the FAA regional headquarters in Burlington.

The FAA awarded the airport an $800,000 grant for design of the building in 2011; the new building is planned to include offices, bunk facilities, and room to house firefighting and snow removal equipment.

At a meeting of the commission Thursday, Mr. Garfinkle said Mary Walsh, the top regional administrator for the FAA, strongly criticized the lack of progress.

“Mary Walsh was very upset, expressed extreme displeasure with the fact that we didn’t use that money,” Mr. Garfinkle said.

Mr. Garfinkle and Mr. Rosenbaum said they were asked to leave the room and were called back 15 minutes later.

“They gave us one more chance,” Mr. Garfinkle said. “There will be a very strict timetable that we will have to adhere to.”

He said the FAA will consider a grant of $8 million for the construction of a firefighting facility, but that the airport will have to fund any snow removal facility on its own.

Mr. Garfinkle said he left the meeting “shell shocked.”

About $300,000 from the original design grant award, which was for a combined firefighting and snow removal facility, has been spent on preliminary design. According to acting airport manager Deborah Potter, the design process was nearing about 60 per cent completion. The cost of the combined facility, according to preliminary designs, would be in a range of $11 million to $16 million.

Those plans will have to be changed, at added expense, because the FAA now wants to fund only a firefighting facility, not a combined use building, according to Mr. Garfinkle.

Thursday marked the first airport commission meeting since Mr. Garfinkle disclosed that the airport was facing an Oct. 15 deadline to correct a series of deficiencies flagged by the FAA, or risk losing millions of dollars in federal grant money and also its status as a commercial airport. Manager Sean Flynn has been out since August 10 and is not expected to return, according to Mr. Garfinkle and Mr. Rosenbaum, who are negotiating with him over terms for his departure. Mrs. Potter, the assistant manager, has assumed the role of manager for now.

The meeting was marked by open tension among commissioners. Mr. Garfinkle said he was surprised to learn that commissioner Beth Toomey had called an FAA administrator in advance of the meeting asking for information. Mr. Garfinkle asked Ms. Toomey to explain her reasoning in the public session.

“I feel like there hasn’t been a lot of communication,” Ms. Toomey said. “I feel like the chair and the vice-chair are managing the airport, not the manager. I had concerns.”

Later, Mr. Rosenbaum responded. “In talking to the FAA, it is very common for airport commissioners to be involved in all aspects of the airport’s operations and management,” he said. “They did not expect commissioners to sit back in an ivory tower and come in once a month for a briefing.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Mrs. Potter updated the commissioners on two key deficiencies flagged in two separate FAA inspections at the airport earlier this year: lack of a wildlife management plan and failure to keep up with scheduled painting for runway markings. Among other things, during one inspection, deer were found inside the perimeter fence, a clear aviation hazard and safety violation.

On Thursday Mrs. Potter said work is progressing quickly on the wildlife management plan, and she expects to have the plan ready well before the Oct. 15 deadline.

She also told commissioners that airfield line painting is scheduled for Sept. 28 and 29. The painting will require 12-hour night closures of the airport on those two dates. The painting is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Following public discussion, the airport commission voted unanimously to go into executive session. The subject of the closed-door session, which included commission attorney Susan Whalen participating by phone, was listed in the agenda as three separate open meeting complaints filed against the commission.

Two of the complaints were filed by Mr. Flynn; the third complaint was filed by Barnstable resident Ronald Beaty.

Much of the Gazette’s information regarding the airport’s relationship with the FAA has come from interviews with Mr. Garfinkle and Mr. Rosenbaum. The Gazette has repeatedly sought copies of inspection reports and other correspondence from the commission, but has been told the material cannot be disclosed while part of an ongoing investigation.

Shortly before deadline Thursday, the Gazette received one of the items it had requested: a copy of the FAA’s May 2014 inspection report and a follow-up letter from November 2014. The inspection report noted four discrepancies, one of which was corrected during the course of the inspection. One of the others related to an airport compliance manual and the other two concerned airport markings. The November letter noted that the inspection file was closed after airport management had indicated all four discrepancies had been corrected. adding: “We commend you for the expeditious correction of these discrepancies.”

Separately, Ms. Whalen responded late Thursday to an August 21 order from state Supervisor of Records Shawn A. Williams directing the commission to provide emails requested by the Gazette in June or explain in writing “with specificity” why the records should not be disclosed.

In a letter to the Gazette, Ms. Whalen said the emails related to a specific individual and were “disciplinary in nature as well as evaluative of the employee’s performance.” Disclosure would result in “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” she said.