Board toasts agreement on Fort Monroe transition
A 2005 aerial view of Fort Monroe in Hampton. The Civil War Preservation Trust puts the fort on its lists of endangered and at-risk battlefields. (Stephen M. Katz | The Virginian-Pilot)
Interactive: What does the future hold for Fort Monroe?
By Kate Wiltrout
© March 20, 2009
Members of the state-appointed board overseeing Fort Monroe's transition from Army to civilian control congratulated one another Thursday for completing a "major milestone."
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will soon sign the "programmatic agreement" that legally binds signatories to protect the fort's historic assets, said Bill Armbruster, the executive director of the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority.
Other signatories include the Army, the National Park Service, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
"This is the document that is going to guide what we can and cannot do" with the fort's historic properties, Armbruster said Thursday. The Army will vacate the waterfront base in Hampton in 2011.
The drafting process involved extensive public input and dozens of "consulting parties," including Hampton University, the Diocese of Richmond, the Norfolk Historical Society, and Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park.
But the public and consulting parties don't yet know what the agreement says - or even how long it is. It will be made public after Kaine signs it, Armbruster said.
In other developments:
- The Civil War Preservation Trust released its list of 25 endangered and at-risk battlefields this week. Fort Monroe wasn't one of the 10 most endangered, but it did make the "at-risk" list.
The organization noted that the state, preservation groups and citizens continue to grapple with "how best to balance protecting the site's historic character with allowing for economic development."
Commercial real estate agents will get to hear about balancing those sometimes-competing interests next week.
Joshua Gillespie, the development authority's project manager, will speak Thursday to the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate. Gillespie will talk about the vision for the fort's reuse and how to implement it.
According to the association, his talk is titled "Development Considerations & Opportunities at Fort Monroe."
- David Shiver of Bay Area Economics, a California firm hired to analyze economic development possibilities, recommended targeting the fort's housing units for military families and for visiting faculty and graduate students at local universities.
Shiver also suggested luring an "anchor tenant" to the 570-acre base. He suggested promoting "green" or "clean" industries, as well as commercial tenants with ties to the military and NASA.
- Before any new occupants can inhabit Fort Monroe, the Department of Defense must ensure it isn't leaving unexploded ordnance buried beneath areas that could be developed, or lodged in the sand close to shore.
Exactly how far offshore to search for old munitions is the subject of debate between the Army on one hand and the state Department of Environmental Quality and the development authority on the other.
The Army proposes looking for unexploded ordnance out to the 3-foot water line; the Department of Environmental Quality and the authority would like a larger search.
Kate Wiltrout, (757) 446-2629, firstname.lastname@example.org