The Fort Allen Puerto Rico National Guard site in Ponce, PR has no residents, but it does include barracks and receiver site for Over the Horizon Radar run by 20 civilian defense contractors, on 940 acres. The Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar (ROTHR) is part of a surveillance network which designed to monitor flights over an area encompassing more than 1 million square miles in South America. The ROTHR, developed by Raytheon, would consist of 34 antennas and support structures, 71 to 125 feet tall. The transmitter is planned for a 100 acre plot of land in Vieques. The site for the receiver was originally planned to be located in the Lajas Valley but was changed to Fort Allen due to protest regarding the military's use of prime farmland and possible disruption of the community's irrigation system.
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) addressing the impacts of the proposed ROTHR system was released to the public in July 1995. Public comments received on the DEIS included concerns over the loss of 100 acres of farmland at a candidate receiver site in Lajas Valley. Based on these concerns, the Department of the Navy re-evaluated potential sites for the ROTHR system, and determined that a shortened receiver array could be installed completely on federal property at Fort Allen, a US Army installation located about 4 miles south of the town of Juana Diaz and 10 miles east of Ponce.
In order to provide for the immediate relocation and temporary housing of Haitian nationals, who were located in the State of Florida and presently in the custody of the United States, at a Federal facility known as Fort Allen, located in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, on October 1, 1981 the President determined it to be in the paramount interest of the United States to exempt Fort Allen from all the requirements otherwise imposed on it by the various environmental statutes. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and various citizens challenged the Federal Government's decision to transfer Haitian and Cuban refugees from Florida to an abandoned Department of Defense facility in Puerto Rico known as Fort Allen. The Government had done nothing to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Executive Order No. 11593, or the regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation implementing Section 106 of NHPA prior to beginning construction on the camp to ready it for refugee occupancy, although it had commissioned an archeological survey of the area after construction began. The district court found that construction of the camp was a major Federal action requiring an environmental impact statement (EIS) under NEPA.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Realign United States Army Reserve Center Captain E. Rubio Junior, Puerto Nuevo, PR, by relocating the 8th Brigade, 108th DIV (IT) to a new Armed Forces Reserve Center on Fort Allen, PR.
Secretary of Defense Justification: This recommendation transforms Reserve Component facilities throughout Puerto Rico. The implementation of this recommendation will enhance military value, improve homeland defense capability, greatly improve training and deployment capability, create significant efficiencies and cost savings, and is consistent with the Army's force structure plans and Army transformational objectives.
This recommendation is the result of a state-wide analysis of Reserve Component installations and facilities conducted by a team of functional experts from Headquarters, Department of the Army, the Office of the State Adjutant General, and the Army Reserve Regional Readiness Command.
This recommendation provides the opportunity for other Local, State, or Federal organizations to partner with the Reserve Components to enhance homeland security and homeland defense at a reduced cost to those agencies.
Although not captured in the COBRA analysis, this recommendation, combined with the additional recommendations for the Reserve Component Transformation in Puerto Rico, avoids an estimated $36.4M in mission facility renovation costs and procurement avoidances associated with meeting AT/FP construction standards and altering existing facilities to meet unit training and communications requirements. Consideration of these avoided costs would reduce costs and increase the net savings to the Department of Defense in the 6-year BRAC implementation period and in the 20-year period used to calculate NPV.
Community Concerns: There were no formal expressions from the community.
Commission Findings: The Commission found no reason to disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense. In addition, the Commission notes that the Army's process was well thought-out and inclusive of the leadership of the Reserve Components and the State.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and force structure plan. Therefore, the Commission approved the recommendation of the Secretary.
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