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Navy Seeks Public Input on Air Base Property

The Navy is holding a pair of open houses and is collecting comments on the shuttered Willow Grove air base.

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 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 . 

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 david.drozd@navy.mil; 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.

Karen December 07, 2012 at 12:05 PM
They will get the public all hyped up again on hot topic issues at the base, but in the end there will never be a public vote, the panel of 5 will always vote for us, regardless of any public opposition.
Siobhra DeWar December 07, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Karen, they will first check with the developers who bought them. Remember only the money people in the area are allowed to vote.
Horsham Dad December 07, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Love the times of the meetings 4-8 and 10-2 on weekdays. Gotta love it.
Mike Shortall Sr December 08, 2012 at 03:47 AM
What exactly would be the benefit of having people vote on what to do there? And who gets to vote .... everyone in MontCo? Bucks too? Or just Horsham? Maybe the entire state of Pennsylvania should have a say! Please ... Besides the BRAC law, passed by the U.S. Congress to deal with excess public property does not allow for mob rule in making such complex decisions. Suggest you contact your Congressional Rep.

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