The U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Detrick remains neutral on whether the city of Frederick should construct a road through part of a Detrick property that has for decades been a chemical waste disposal site, biological and radiological.
Any formal decision should come from a higher command, spokeswoman Lanessa Hill said on Friday.
The city was told at a meeting in August 2021 that garrison leaders were reluctant to allow such a road to be built, but did not view the announcement as an official policy decision, according to the memos. a city staff member who attended the meeting.
The city has long sought to construct a “ring road” around the city, consisting of Monocacy Boulevard on the south and east edges and Christopher’s Crossing on the north and west sides.
Part of Christopher’s Crossing would pass through a section of Fort Detrick’s Area B, a parcel of land used to dispose of chemical, biological and radiological waste from the 1940s to 1970s, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
After resistance to residents’ proposal during the drafting of the city’s latest comprehensive plan in 2021 to build a road through the plot, parts of which are contaminated, the final draft of the plan said the city continues to consider other options, including widening of existing Kemp Lane.
At a Fort Detrick Restoration Advisory Board meeting Wednesday night, Gary Zolyak, an army attorney at Fort Detrick, said the base commander was no longer interested in the road crossing the B area.
When Tracy Coleman, the city’s assistant director of public works, heard Zolyak’s comment, she followed him up to see if there was an official position paper available, and he reminded her that he had spoken to her. of the decision at the meeting in August, according to a statement released Friday by the city.
Coleman had met with Zolyak and representatives from the environmental division of the Fort Detrick Department of Public Works, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maryland Department of the Environment on August 9, 2021, to discuss what should be done for each of the environmental agencies to review the project and the process of submitting the various documents, Coleman wrote.
Coleman wrote that his notes from the 2021 meeting reflected Zolyak’s statement at the start of the meeting that the current commander did not support moving Christopher’s Crossing to Area B, but would support a change to Kemp Lane.
“I did not consider [Zolyak’s] commentary as a statement of an official position, plus an advisory statement,” Coleman wrote. “And, because we were already tasked with developing an alignment along Kemp Lane during the process of updating the overall plan, I took this information as a fact to consider when comparing the two different alignments. .”
Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor wrote in a statement that “to date, no formal request for the easement has been made and therefore we have not received an official position from Fort Detrick.”
Coleman added that: “Until Wednesday night’s RAB meeting, when asked about Christophers Crossing in RAB meetings or emails, Fort Detrick Environmental Division personnel DEP argued that because the city has not made a formal request for an easement to build a road, the Garrison has no formal position on a project about which it knows little or nothing.
In an email Friday, Hill wrote, “Due to the numerous federal and state environmental regulatory approvals that would be required to construct a road through Area B of Detrick, the current Garrison Commander as well as former Commanders of the garrison remained neutral with respect to the construction concept. a causeway through Zone B until a formal study has been commissioned and completed… Without studies, no decision can be made one way or the other. The bottom line is that the final decision on either proposed road construction plan rests with the garrison’s higher headquarters, the U.S. Army Installation Management Command.”
“The Garrison remains open to ideas to support the City in its development of the Croix de Christophe [sic] road,” she wrote.
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