A local commission that wants the federal government to decontaminate Gould Island to make it safe for public recreation is looking to the southernmost 17 acres for its proposal.
The Gould Island Commission will meet at City Hall on October 27 at 7:00 pm after an advisory meeting with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Commission chairman David Sommers said he would propose a plan to reallocate 17 of his 39 state-owned acres for recreational use. Currently, the entire 39-acre section operates as a wildlife sanctuary from April until he August, allowing migratory birds to breed. Gould Island is the smallest of the three islands that make up Jamestown, but the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management owns 39 acres in the south, after Conanicut Island and Dutch Island. 23 acres in the north are owned and operated by the US Navy. Under Somers’ proposal, 22 of the 39 state-owned acres would remain wildlife reserves.
“We are looking for a compromise,” he said.
The plan is for the committee to approve the resolution and submit it to the city council for consideration. The resolution calls for state funding through 2023-2024 to develop plans to restore the 17-acre lot. Sommers said the federal government needs to confirm an official plan before committing more money to expanding the extent of decontamination.
Sommers said the plan would actually return the island to its original configuration when the federal government began transferring land after World War II.
The Gould Island cleanup, which began in 2018, is licensed through the Defense Environmental Restoration Program. This is a congressional initiative to identify toxic waste, debris, construction hazards, and unexploded ordnance from defunct military installations. The 39-acre portion to be explored is a former air force base used by the US Navy from 1920 to 1973. During operations, it housed US Marine Corps barracks, an aircraft hangar, and a seaplane landing strip.
Following the closure of the base, parts of Gould Island were transferred to various jurisdictions.
The Navy annexed the southernmost 39 acres to the General Services Administration in 1972, 17 of which were subsequently transferred to the US Department of the Interior for outdoor recreation. Three years later the land was transferred to the state. In 1989, the GSA transferred the remaining 22 acres to the state for habitat protection.
However, the state has converted the southernmost 17 acres into a 22-acre wildlife sanctuary, even though the federal government has ceded the land for outdoor recreation.
The northernmost 23 acres under federal control are not subject to investigation under the restoration program. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center operates there.
The whole process started with empowering a local committee to act as a liaison with the Army. This advisory board was established for residents to bring their concerns to federal engineers.
Somers chairs its Gould Island Advisory Committee, but he also called for the establishment of a second committee to fight for an expanded cleanup. , the Legion is responsible for rehabilitating the land to make it suitable for breeding birds rather than humans. Since only the Advisory Committee is authorized to discuss plans under its existing scope, in August 2021 the Gould Island Commission, chaired by Mr. The possibility of staining was discussed.