The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 27, 2013

Scouts hope for help from the National Guard to develop 50 acres for future long term parking

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) hopes to enlist the help of military service members to construct 50 acres of parking lots at its property on Sun Mine Road as a solution to long-term parking needs of the Summit Bechtel Family Reserve.

The National Guard Bureau has prepared an environmental assessment for the parking lot project outside of Mount Hope, which describes the land that would be disturbed for the project according to National Environmental Policy Act standards.

Several more hurdles, such as an environmental permitting process through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), still need to be cleared before any work can begin.

The assessment, which went out for public review in May, includes a general description of three parking lots and an interconnecting road to be constructed on the 583.5-acre tract. The majority of the site is composed of reclaimed surface mines.

Parking for this year’s Jamboree will be at a private lot loaned to the Scouts at Bradley Crossing, just off  U.S. 19 near the Sunoco, but the organization needs a more permanent solution to parking the thousands of anticipated visitors.

The proposed lots would serve as the primary parking facility for the Summit’s activities, both during the Jamboree and throughout the year.

To help reduce costs, the BSA has enlisted reservists with the U.S. military to do some of the planning and initial grading of the site.

The BSA would provide materials, permits and assessments, with the military chipping in equipment, fuel and manpower for the initial phase of the project.

The rest of the construction would be performed by local contractors, according to the environmental assessment.

Military service members with the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program are already set up at the former Mount Hope High School, their base of operations. They have been working with the BSA to build roads and some structures at the Summit site.

The IRT program takes on projects across the country that can provide service members with real-world training to prepare for wartime missions and support under-served communities in the process.

The “under-served community” in this case is the area surrounding the Summit, which the BSA anticipates will benefit economically from its development.

“This project will allow our reserve equipment operators to have some stick time using heavy equipment,” says Maj. Paul Baczuk. “It’s a great training opportunity.”

Mike Patrick, chief operating officer of the Summit, called the BSA’s partnership with the IRT program a “win-win” situation at a recent public meeting.

“They have contributed in a significant way to the development of the Summit,” he said.

Whether the military will take on this portion of work on the lots will be a matter of timing. The troops are on the ground as long as they are needed, but the environmental and permitting clearances can take time.

The environmental assessment concluded that the parking lot project would create “no significant adverse impacts on the human or natural environment.”

“The only areas where the proposed action has any potential to generate cumulative impacts pertains to stormwater management,” it states.

The document calls the amount of expected runoff from the project “minimal” and claims that “indirect impacts” to streams, ponds and wetlands “would be barely noticeable and negligible.”

“Best construction management practices will be followed to ensure runoffs are prevented from reaching any wetlands or streams,” write the document’s authors.

The lot would be constructed of gravel and compact earth, with asphalt installed at some future time.

A specific environmental sediment control plan to minimize erosion and runoff would come into play in the project’s permit application with the WVDEP.

A copy of the environmental assessment is available for review at IRT headquarters at the former Mount Hope High School.

—E-mail: cmoore

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