Major Accomplishments Mark First Anniversary of Barracks Transfer
Contact: Ray Cozby, Project Manager, Vancouver Barracks, 360.816.6238
Contact: Kristen Jontos, Business Manager, Vancouver Barracks, 360.816.6209
Contact: Alex Patterson, Facility Manager, Fort Vancouver NHS, 360.816.6221
Who: National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Where: East & South Vancouver Barracks, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
What: Accomplishments Marking One-year Anniversary as Unit of National Park Service
VANCOUVER, WA - Superintendent Tracy Fortmann and Project Manager Ray Cozby today announced the achievement of key milestone projects by the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site that highlight the one-year anniversary of the transfer of the East and South Vancouver Barracks from the U.S. Department of Defense to the National Park Service.
"The East and South Barracks pose an exciting challenge; they require extensive rehabilitation and repair but have the potential to be vibrant examples of living history and adaptive re-use," said Fortmann. With a goal of achieving the full potential of the site and opening buildings to the public, the National Park Service completed several critical planning and infrastructure projects over the past twelve months.
Completion and public release of the Master Plan and Environmental Assessment for the East and South Vancouver Barracks marked a significant accomplishment that creates a roadmap for future project work. Developed over the last few years and supported by extensive public comment and input, the plan's preferred alternative -- A Sustainable, Historic Campus for Public Service--envisions adaptive reuse of the existing structures through long-term leases with public and non-profit agencies as well as a mix of private sector offices, businesses, shops and restaurants, while ensuring that the Barracks remains a place where the public can enjoy the multi-layered history of the area.
"The results of this extensive, inclusive public planning process provide an overall vision and important guidance for all future work," explained Cozby. "We appreciate all of the public input that helped guide this exciting course forward."
Caretaking of Historic Structures Implemented
During this first year of managing the East and South Barracks, the National Park Service continued to accomplish essential groundwork to protect and preserve the historic buildings and other cultural resources to enable the successful achievement of the Master Plan.
The National Park Service worked closely with the departing U. S. Army Reserve to complete important caretaking work on all of the historic buildings in order to protect them from vandalism, intrusion, pests and the elements during the rehabilitation process. This caretaking included color-matched window and door coverings made of plywood and plexiglass that provides functional protection but also addresses building aesthetics during this early transition period.
Also in concert with the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Reserve undertook lead remediation in the historic barracks buildings fronting the Parade Ground to clean the attics of contamination resulting from their historic use as small arms firing ranges. "We took advantage of this project to also put insulation in the attics. This will save money during future rehabilitation work," said Cozby. All contamination has been removed and those attic spaces are now safe to enter.
Over the last year, the park also established a contract for security officers to patrol the site on evenings, weekends, and holidays to ensure 24-hour facility security, and installed fire alarms (along with requisite phone service) in all buildings.
Army Air Force Exchange Service Shopette & Barber Shop Retained
National Park Service staff negotiated a unique agreement to keep the Army Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) on-site and available to the local veteran community and the general public. The agreement is unique because these support facilities for current and former military personnel and their families are only located on military or other federal property. As a unit of the National Park Service, East Vancouver Barracks remains federal property, and this status enables AAFES operations such as the Shopette to remain onsite. Now open to the public, the Shopette continues to be a popular place for military personnel and retirees to shop.
Emergency Repairs Completed
The National Park Service continued to respond to and complete a number of emergency repairs that prevented permanent damage to public assets onsite and threatened the safety of the visiting public.
By continuing to locate and repair leaks in the post's antiquated potable water service lines, the National Park Service saved as much as 1.2 million gallons of water per month in the East and South Barracks while preserving important buildings, infrastructure and archaeological resources from resulting damage. "The National Park Service recognizes the importance of serving as an example in the responsible protection of resources. We need to 'walk the talk' and so one of our first priorities was to stop the damage of archaeological resources as well as the wasteful loss of potable water while we are at the same time designing an efficient and effective replacement system," said Fortmann.
Recognizing the increased popularity of public walks through the barracks, park staff and contractors conducted a hazard tree analysis and removed numerous hazard branches trees that were a public safety concern and/or threatened buildings and landscape features.
Utility, Design, Cultural Resource Management, and Transportation Projects Initiated
Although emergency repairs were made to several of the utility systems, assessments showed that the entire utility infrastructure of East and South Vancouver Barracks is well beyond its useful lifespan and is failing. Complete replacement of the infrastructure is necessary and is a multi-million dollar, multi-year undertaking.
Anticipating this need, the National Park Service had already begun work on designing a new utility system prior to receiving the property and has continued the utility design and related resource compliance work during the first year of ownership. Archaeologists have conducted testing of various locations on the site to explore the important subsurface resources of the park and to help guide the infrastructure work.
The National Park Service also began design work on a site transportation and access plan which will result in improved traffic flow and pedestrian use of the site. Finally, the National Park Service is finishing an environmental response plan to develop an appropriate response to any possible environmental concerns, such as flakes of lead-based paint in the soil. Numerous methods for treatment and combinations thereof are being researched, analyzed and considered. The cultural and archeological sensitivity of the historic site will be one of the driving factors affecting the decisions to be made.
Planning for Year Two
Throughout the second year of National Park Service stewardship, it is the Service's intent to continue the momentum of the initial years and accomplish new project work throughout Vancouver Barracks. Staff at all levels of the National Park Service have worked closely over the past year to scope this second phase of projects, and new work will be announced in late May 2013 to correspond with the one year anniversary.
Background The Vancouver Barracks, established in 1849, was the first U.S. Army post established in the Pacific Northwest. The inclusion of the former military post as part of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site was very significant, adding 27 buildings (17 of which are Historic) and 30 acres to the national park site. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is the heart of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver's role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs -- including living history events, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special activities -- create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.