The embattled manager of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport resigned this week, formally severing his contract and ending months of acrimony and legal tussles with the airport commission.

Sean Flynn’s resignation and contract settlement agreement were announced by the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission Wednesday morning following an hourlong closed-door session at the VTA conference room at the airport business park.

The full commission reconvened in open session and voted 7-0 to approve the settlement, which includes $235,650 in payments for severance benefits and earned time. The resignation is effective retroactive to Nov. 4, according to the terms of the agreement.

Airport commission chairman Myron Garfinkle said the commission weighed the expense of the severance benefit against the potential cost of future litigation Mr. Flynn would be entitled to pursue against the commission.

“Whenever you are at an impasse with a person where litigation is an opportunity, one of the major things you’re going to be weighing is the cost of litigation,” Mr. Garfinkle told the Gazette by telephone Wednesday afternoon. “But sometimes the cost is not just in dollars, it’s in the distraction of being able to carry on your business in the normal fashion, as well as the time involved to settle claims and differences. It wasn’t just the money as the only factor, but the time involved and the emotional investment involved to bring this to a conclusion.”

Mr. Flynn could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Under the terms of the settlement, the airport commission will pay Mr. Flynn $185,634, roughly half his salary for the remaining time on his current three-year contract. The contract was approved by a divided airport commission in February of this year. Soon after the contract was approved, three members of the airport commission were replaced by the Dukes County Commission, leaving only two current members of the commission who had voted in favor of Mr. Flynn’s contract. The Dukes County Commission is the appointing authority for the airport commission.

The contract called for Mr. Flynn to be paid $138,882 in the first year, with a two per cent merit increase in each of the next two years. It went into effect July 1.

The severance agreement also calls for Mr. Flynn to be paid for unused earned time, defined as paid vacation and paid personal days. That amounts to $50,016, according to the settlement agreement.

He will keep his employee health benefits until Dec. 31.

In accepting the settlement, Mr. Flynn agreed not to make any claims or file any lawsuits against the airport commission. He also agreed never to sue the Dukes County commission.

Mr. Garfinkle said it was important to protect the airport commission.

“We didn’t want to be brought into a lawsuit by a third party, Dukes County,” he said. “Sometimes you have to spend thousands of dollars to make millions of dollars,” he also said. “This is an investment we’re making in the future of the airport.”

Mr. Flynn was first appointed airport manager in 2005. His 10-year tenure has been colored by heated legal and political battles over autonomy and authority at the Island’s only commercial airport.

In August of this year, under fire for his management style and job performance, Mr. Flynn left for an unscheduled two-week vacation. At the time it was revealed that the airport was under an Oct. 15 deadline to correct deficiencies identified by the FAA or face loss of millions of dollars in federal grant money and potentially its certification as a commercial airport. Among other things, a wildlife management plan was found lacking, line painting on runways was deficient and the design of a new aircraft rescue and firefighting facility was years behind schedule. 

Under the direction of Mr. Garfinkle, airport vice chairman Robert Rosenbaum and acting manager Deborah Potter, steps have since been taken to correct the deficiencies. Mr. Garfinkle reported recently that the airport is now back on solid footing with the FAA. 

On Sept. 11 the airport commission voted in executive session to place Mr. Flynn on paid leave after attempts to reach an amicable separation agreement were unsuccessful. 

Since then the airport commission has been following a series of steps and disciplinary procedure outlined in Mr. Flynn’s contract.

That all came to an end this week with the announcement of the settlement agreement and that Mr. Flynn had resigned.

Mr. Garfinkle said a search for a new airport manager will begin shortly.

“I think we’ll look back on today as a starting position for some very positive opportunities,” he said. 

Early in the day following the vote, Mr. Garfinkle released a statement. “The Martha’s Vineyard airport commission and Mr. Flynn have reached a mutually negotiated agreement concerning his employment,” it said. “Mr. Flynn has resigned from his position as airport manager in order to pursue other professional and personal interests. The commission looks forward to focusing on the business at hand to continue to provide the traveling public with a safe, efficient and enjoyable experience, and acknowledges Mr. Flynn for his 22 years of service to the airport.”