GSA hosts public meeting for proposed training center at Fort Pickett and Pickett Park

U. S. General Services Administration staff members provide information about the Draft Environmental Impact Study for the proposed U. S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at a public meeting held Nov. 7, 2012, in Blackstone. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

BLACKSTONE, Va. — Citizens of Blackstone, Nottoway County and other localities in the Fort Pickett area learned details of the Draft Environmental Impact Study for the proposed U. S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at a public meeting hosted by the U. S. General Services Administration Nov. 7, 2012, in Blackstone.

GSA is proposing to acquire land at Fort Pickett and Pickett Park to develop the FASTC, a facility that would consolidate existing Department of State training operations located across the country. The FASTC would include driving tracks, mock urban environments, fire and explosive ranges, classrooms, simulations labs, administration, dormitories, dining facilities and supporting infrastructure.

The Draft EIS analyzes and assesses the environmental effects of site acquisition and development, and citizens have until Dec. 10, 2012 to comment on the draft. A final EIS is expected in Spring 2013, followed by a 30-day review period, and GSA estimates a Record of Decision to published soon after that.

If the proposed site is selected, the EIS indicates as many as 1,500 permanent direct and indirect jobs could be brought to the area with an estimated net revenue increase of $1.2 annually in Nottoway County. Proposed construction would occur between 2014 and 2020.

According to the fact sheet provided by GSA, the findings of the Draft EIS Technical Studies are as follows:

Economic and Fiscal: 1,500 new permanent direct and indirect jobs; 938 temporary construction jobs; 1,292 new residents primarily in Chesterfield and Nottoway Counties; $1.1 million net revenue increases in Chesterfield County; $1.2 million net reve-nue increases in Nottoway County; net revenue increases also in Dinwiddie, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Prince Edward Counties; $117.9 million peak construction economic output in 2017; $131.2 million annual operations output; most economic benefit realized in Chesterfield and Nottoway Counties.

Cultural: Build Alternatives 1 and 2 would have no adverse effects under the NHPA on National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)-eligible or potentially eligible historic properties. Archaeological surveys identified six sites potentially eligible for the NRHP, but all sites would be avoided by both alternatives; therefore no adverse effects would occur. GSA has initiated consultation with Virginia Department of Historic Resources on this finding of effects, and the results will be incorporated in the Final EIS.

Air Quality: The analysis determined construction and operation-al emissions of Build Alternatives 1 and 2 would not have a significant impact on the local or regional air quality.

Noise: Build Alternatives 1 and 2 are predicted to generate limited additional noise in the surrounding community beyond the existing noise from Fort Pickett operations. Blackstone residents are likely to notice an increase in the overall number of explosive events heard, but only an average of 1.2 additional explosive events per week. The additional peak noise events would be most noticed in the vicinity of the northwest boundary of Fort Pickett; however, the infrequency of these events would result in a low risk that residents would be adversely impacted.

Traffic: Three intersections would be adversely impacted with the addition of 3,500 vehicle trips per day in 2020: Cox Road/Yellowbird Road at U.S. 460; Military Road at Darvills Road (VA 40); and West Entrance Road/8th Street at South Main Street. Delays would likely occur at the Main Gate and on Military Road within Fort Pickett. Mitigation would be considered in consulta-tion with Virginia Department of Transportation, Nottoway County, Blackstone, and Virginia Army National Guard.

Wetlands: 106 acres of wetlands and streams were mapped on the proposed site parcels. Build Alternative 1 would result in adverse filling and clearing impacts to 6.5 acres of wetlands, including 564 linear feet of streams. Build Alternative 2 would im-pact 7.1 acres of wetlands, including 426 linear feet of streams. Wetland permits would require compensation for these impacts. This would most likely include the purchase of credits from a wetland mitigation bank and/or payment of a fee to Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund for the preservation of other wetlands.

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