2018-03-01 / News

Feds establishing advisory board to help map Gould Island’s future


The entirety of Gould Island was administered by the U.S. Navy for 53 years before the southernmost 39 acres, located at the top of this photo, were transferred to the state for conservation. The entirety of Gould Island was administered by the U.S. Navy for 53 years before the southernmost 39 acres, located at the top of this photo, were transferred to the state for conservation. The federal government is soliciting the town for volunteers to join an advisory board in charge of vetting restoration plans for Gould Island.

About 70 percent of the 56- acre parcel, which is the smallest of the three islands that incorporate Jamestown, is scheduled to undergo an environmental investigation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The panel will serve as town liaison to the Army.

“We will be working to investigate this former naval base on Gould Island with minimal disruption toward the local habitat,” project manager David Heislein said. “This board will serve as a point of contact between the community and the corps, allowing us to identify and address community concerns and needs as they arise.”

The project is sanctioned through the Defense Environmental Restoration Program, a congressional initiative to identify toxic waste, debris, construction hazards and unexploded ordnance from defunct military sites. The portion scheduled for investigation is a former airbase used by the U.S. Navy from 1920-73. While active, it featured U.S. Marines barracks, airplane hangars and a landing strip for seaplanes.

Following the base’s closure, sections of Gould Island have been shuffled among various jurisdictions. The Navy annexed 39 southern acres for the General Services Administration in 1972, including 17 acres subsequently shifted to the U.S. Department of Interior for outdoor recreation. Three years later, that land was transferred to the state. In 1989, the administration conveyed the remaining 22 acres to the state.

These state-owned acres will be investigated. Similar to Dutch Island, this property is managed by the Department of Environmental Management, specifically the Fish & Wildlife Division, as a conservation habitat and bird sanctuary. It is heavily overgrown by trees and brush.

The northernmost 17 acres, which remain in federal control, are not eligible for investigation under the restoration program. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center operates there.

According to Heislein, the contractor began mobilizing his field equipment last week. Workers are clearing areas to locate potential buried utilities. Once this preparation is finished, they will begin collecting soil and groundwater samples.

Jamestown residents interested in joining the volunteer board should call Heislein at 978-318- 8177. He can provide further information about the project.

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