Published in The Herald of Wall Township on January 29, 1998
STAFF WRITER WALL – The calm of Tuesday night’s Restoration Advisory Board meeting was disturbed when board members became angry over a document not forwarded to them for review.
Following progress reports on clean-up sites throughout Camp Evans board members questioned why they never received copies of the Army’s final environmental impact statement, FEIS, a document which some believe is essential to RAB’s functioning.
Drafts of the FEIS, on the reuse of Camp Evans had been reviewed previously by members of the board. The final EIS was released on Dec. 17 for a public review period of 30 days.
The FEIS’S purpose is to examine potential impacts on the environment and human health when Camp Evans is turned over for reuse. The purpose of RAB, according to information published by Christopher Kencik, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAG) coordinator, is “to promote community involvement in the environmental remediation process associated with the closure of Camp Evans.”
These two goals collided when board members Jim Stigliano and Robert McAllan criticized the Army for its handling of the latest and final environmental impact statement.
“This is the first I have seen of this,” said Mr. McAllan. “I object to the January 9 deadline and I would like to have this reopened and have everyone get a copy so that they can review it.”
Before the deadline had come and gone Mr. Stigliano was one of the few board members who received a copy of the FEIS in mid-December, because he signed up for it at a public hearing in 1996.
“I called her (Dr. Rees) and she refused to extend the public. comment period,” he said.
“How can we evaluate the environmental impact of this (reuse) project if we don’t have the environmental impact statement,” Mr. McAllan questioned. Mr. Kencik called the document “ancillary” and not part of. RAB’s charge. Mr. McAllan said that he didn’t think the two could be separated.
RAB chairman, Fred Carl, who did not attend the meeting because of illness, said yesterday that his main concern now is not the FEIS but the restoration activity.
“The FEIS is more of a bureaucratic thing, whose time is over It’s just a document that needed to be filed with the federal agencies. What is important now is the progress of the restoration. One is the bureaucratic track and one is the real work tract,” he said.
William Lawler, representative of the EPA to RAB,, said that even he did not receive a copy and only became aware of it when he saw someone in his office reviewing it. “This board should have received a copy of it,” he told Mr. Kencik. Mr. Lawler, who called the issue a bad public relations move, asked Mr. Kencik to speak with Dr. Rees and get the public review period reopened.
The board members agreed that this was an oversight on the part of the Army and more a result of poor planning than intent.
Today Dr. Rees said that she had called her supervisors in Washington to ask if a reopening of the public comment is possible.
According to Dr. Rees the mailing list for the FEIS included over 100 federal and state officials and interested private citizens. It was the RAB chairman’s responsibility to request copies for the entire board, she said.
RAB chairman Fred Carl said that he was unaware of this responsibility but that he had notified all members on Dec. 20 with a copy of a press release published in The Herald on Dec. 18 stating that the FEIS was available from Dr. Rees.
“As the above article states the FEIS has been released. It has a 30 days review/comment period. This period ends Jan. 17, ten days prior to our next meeting. Please take the time to visit the library or contact Dr. Rees for a personal review copy …If you feel we need to call an emergency meeting to review the FEIS please give me a call,” read Mr. Carl’s letter to the RAB members.
According to Mr. Carl no member expressed an interest in having a meeting.
RAB will be meeting on Feb. 24 to discuss the FEIS after all RAB members have had a chance to read it.
On December 19, the News Editor at the Herald faxed a request to Dr. Rees for the document. The faxed was received by Dr. Rees. . As of Jan. 29 he is still waiting for his copy of the report.
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