The environmental clean-up of Truman Waterfront in Key West's Old Town is finished and awaiting the final administrative stamp of approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Naval Air Station Key West officials and contractors hired to oversee the removal of metal-laden soil from the waterfront announced the project completion during the navy's recent annual Restoration Advisory Board meeting, which includes Navy members, the FDEP and community members, who work to keep residents up to date on naval environmental projects.
The Navy gave the city of Key West much of the Truman Waterfront property as part of its Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process that began in 1995 when initial plans called for the area to be part of the city's port operations division.
It was later designated for use as a park and the site of a proposed and controversial assisted living center, but state environmental officials have to sign off on all plans.
Soil tests in 2009 indicated the area contained lead and PCBs that exceeded allowable levels, so the Navy has been trucking soil up to Miami where it is being recycled.
The Navy first began clean-up efforts to bring the area to "industrial" safe levels in accordance with the FDEP, but have since cleaned it to the stricter standards required for "recreational" use, said Amy Twitty, senior project manager overseeing much of the efforts.
There are three areas of concern: Two small slivers of land near the road to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, a tract behind the Eco-Discovery Center and a large piece of land that includes the area in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Ingham museum and the old Navy building that has long been vacant.
Navy officials rejected a long-standing concern from some in the community about the Navy reclaiming the property after it has been cleaned.
Navy BRAC Program Management Office representative Greg Preston said at the RAB meeting: "For the property in question there are no reversion rights," meaning the Navy cannot reacquire the property.
For information on the RAB or NAS Key West's environmental remediation programs, go to www.cnic.navy.mil/keywest and look for Environmental Support under the Operations and Management tab.