Are you concerned about increased traffic coming in and out of what is now Willow Grove air base as 862 acres are redeveloped? Do you worry about the condition of the land where a new middle school is planned, or where more than 1,400 homes are expected to be built?
If these, or other concerns are on your mind, the U.S. Navy wants you to share them. As part of the government's roughly 18-month-long environmental impact statement, which has been underway since summer, the BRAC Program Management Office is holding a pair of public open houses on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14.
The meetings had originally been set for late October, but required rescheduling as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
"We would very much like the public to come to the (Environmental Impact Statement) scoping meetings ... to help us identify the environmental issues and concerns that Navy should address," Dave Drozd, Director BRAC Program Management Office Northeast, said. "Completing the NASJRB Willow Grove EIS is one of three critical components to disposing (of) the base. The second component is Navy's completion of environmental cleanup efforts on the base."
Cleanup of roughly 30 acres of environmental "hot spots" on the former air base has been ongoing for about 12 years, officials said previously. In May 2011, a Navy official estimated that remediation would be ongoing for 10 years.
Even though the process insinuates that only issues related to the environment will be heard, Mike McGee, Horsham Land Redevelopment Authority executive director said that's not the case. Economic development concerns as well as "everything associated with redevelopment of the base" is fair game, McGee said.
"They will take comments on all ranges of issues," McGee said.
Following the public comment period, Drozd said he anticipates having the draft Environmental Impact Statement available for public review and comment in summer or early fall 2013. That 30-day public comment period will include public meetings, he said.
From there, a final statement is expected in February 2014 and the process will conclude with a Record of Decision signed by the Navy Secretariat in approximately March 2014.
Once the Environmental Impact Statement is finalized, Drozd said the third component related to the disposal of the air base property involves execution of a real estate agreement with the recipient (or recipients) of the property. The Department of Defense recently recognized the HLRA as the organization responsible for implementing the reuse plan. The five-member board intends to apply for an economic development conveyance, which, if granted, would allow the authority to serve as master developer.
"HLRA will play a key role in the real estate conveyance component," Drozd said.
If you go
The U.S. Navy is holding open houses at Horsham Township Community Center, 1025 Horsham Road in Horsham on Dec. 13 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to receive public comments on the ongoing Environmental Impact Statement for Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove. For those unable to attend the open houses, comments will also be received through November by email, fax, or mail. Comments or questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; faxed to 215-897-4902; or mailed to: Director, BRAC Program Management Office Northeast, Attn: Willow Grove EIS, 4911 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19112-1303.