SEE RESIDENTIAL HOUSING AVAILABLE NOW
Who will take care of Fort Monroe?
The public can look at a preliminary agreement this Saturday
By MATTHEW STURDEVANT
HAMPTON - — The detail of care for brick buildings, plantation-style officers' quarters, a large moated campus with parade grounds and anything else on Fort Monroe starts with an agreement between the Army and the future caretakers of the 540-acre military base.
When the Army leaves in September 2011, the land will transfer to the commonwealth of Virginia. The guidelines for preserving historic buildings and landmarks will be detailed in the agreement, a working draft of which will be available for the public's perusal during a meeting from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Hampton Roads Convention Center.
"When the Army leaves an installation, it's automatically assumed there will be some...care of the facilities...the care is to mitigate any adverse impacts on the resources when the Army departs," said Mike Hodson, an Army spokesman for Fort Monroe.
The agreement is required by the National Historic Preservation Act, under which Fort Monroe has been a national landmark since 1960. Any plans to develop or alter Fort Monroe will have to comply with the agreement, which was shaped by 32 consulting organizations and the Army.
Authorities with the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority who will manage the property once the Army leaves have been one of the consulting parties weighing in on how the agreement is phrased.
William Armbruster, the authority's executive director, said the main concern was that the agreement not be so restrictive and detailed that it would prevent the authority from re-using the buildings.
For example, the authority did not want layers of bureaucratic legal language to mire opportunities to make a former officers' quarters into an office for a nonprofit organization.
The agreement does have some details about how the historic post should be preserved, such as archaeological concerns, or design guidelines for restoring or rehabilitating buildings. It also splits the base into different zones with recommendations for each — for instance, the area inside the moat should be held to high standards of preservation.
The agreement is coming together just as the authority is looking over a large report by consultants who offered suggestions about how the fort could be adapted to a tourist destination. Public comment on the reuse plan is open until June 15.
Public comment on the Army's agreement with the authority is a separate process starting Saturday and going through July 7.
Fort Monroe has a military history that goes back to the 1600s. It has been a manned base since the 1800s.