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Selected Section 106 Cases, 1986-1996: Northeast

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

Defense Environmental Restoration Program cleanup of Nike Missile sites, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1991. In the Northeast, the Corps under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program was charged with hazardous and toxic waste disposal, ordnance and explosive waste removal, and building demolition and debris removal at Cold War-era Nike Missile batteries. Such sites today typically consist of concrete emplacements, launch pads, and blockhouses. To facilitate this effort by the Corps, the Council and SHPOs in the affected New England States agreed that only one example of this kind of site needed to be documented to the standards of the Historic American Engineering Record; this would provide an adequate record of these installations' existence to supplement historical accounts.

Lubec Channel Lighthouse rehabilitation, Lubec, Maine, U.S. Coast Guard, 1992. In 1990, the Coast Guard proposed demolition of the Lubec Channel Lighthouse, a deteriorated "sparkplug" light built in 1890 that is a well-known local landmark. Through the Section 106 consultation process, the Maine SHPO and the Council requested the Coast Guard to explore the relative costs of demolition versus rehabilitation. The Coast Guard ultimately determined that rehabilitation would be more cost-effective and proceeded to rehabilitate the lighthouse.

Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory water intake system relocation, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 1994. Nonfunctional pools which once housed live seals, part of the historic waterfront complex at the National Marine Fisheries Service marine biology laboratory facility at Woods Hole, were threatened by a variety of factors, including violent storms. They were also considered a safety and environmental hazard. NOAA proposed to relocate an obsolete water intake system and to fill the pools to help protect the remainder of the complex. Only major reinforcement and reconstruction of the pools--coupled with a rigorous maintenance routine to keep debris from collecting in the pools--could achieve long-term preservation of the structure. Through economic and structural analyses developed as part of the Section 106 consultation process, it was demonstrated that reuse proposals would be extremely costly. Under these circumstances, the Council supported a shift in emphasis for the site as a whole. It was proposed to incorporate the site (and portions of the sea wall) into the landscape design for the adjacent Woods Hole Waterfront Park. The configuration of the seal pools' existing granite walls was retained, and public use and safety was improved in an area where access was in great demand. Visitation was enhanced through interpretive signage explaining the historic function of the seal pools and their place in the history of the National Marine Fisheries Service facility and the Woods Hole waterfront.

Ellis Island redevelopment, New York, New York, National Park Service (NPS), 1992. In 1991, NPS advanced a proposal for a private developer to create a conference center on the southern half of Ellis Island, a project that would have resulted in extensive demolition and new construction. Pressure from the Council concerning the need to meet the public participation requirements of Section 106 prompted NPS to sponsor a public hearing that catalyzed an outpouring of negative public response. NPS ultimately rejected the proposal and is pursuing other options for more sensitive reuse of the historic properties.

Federal Courthouse and Office Building construction at Foley Square, New York, New York, General Services Administration (GSA), 1992. Plans for a new Federal courthouse and associated Federal office building along Broadway in lower Manhattan ran into serious problems when human skeletal remains from a colonial-era cemetery were encountered during site preparation work. Some 200 years of construction were assumed to have obliterated the resting place of freed and enslaved African Americans and Revolutionary soldiers, yet the area was remarkably intact. GSA sought advice from the National Park Service about treatment options for the remains. New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, representing the city, joined in discussions with the Council to ensure that appropriate treatment plans and adequate community involvement, especially with descendant African Americans, were included in GSA's revised approach. GSA, however, proceeded with construction and emergency salvage and, more than a year after the discovery, had removed over 400 burials.

Widespread public outcry led Mayor David Dinkins to form a special advisory committee to monitor GSA's progress and brought the case to the attention of Congress. Following an onsite congressional hearing in July 1992, GSA was ordered to stop work on the site and told that no further construction funds would be released until resolution of the situation at Foley Square. Further, Congress required GSA to create an Advisory Committee to assist it in developing a mitigation plan for the African Burial Ground. The Council worked closely with the Advisory Committee and others to ensure that research plans and a plan for public commemoration and interpretation of the site were prepared to state-of-the-art standards. At the urging of the Council and others, the site was ultimately designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Section 106 process gave community organizations and local citizens the only forum through which to influence GSA's decisions, and a detailed agreement lays out the blueprint for ultimate treatment of the site's historic values. This led to redesign of the project to ensure preservation of part of the burial ground; preparation of plans for commemoration of the site, assurances on the respectful treatment of the human remains, and plans for public education and interpretation of a little-known period and group and its place in American history. Without Section 106 and the Council, this world-class archeological and historical resource and its historic values would have been entirely lost.

Grand Central Terminal rehabilitation, New York, New York, Federal Transit Administration (FTA), 1995. FTA is assisting with implementation of an ambitious plan to restore Grand Central Terminal to its former grandeur so it might serve as a major commuter rail hub. Designed by Warren and Wetmore in quintessential Beaux-Arts style, the terminal is considered one of the Nation's great examples of urban design and recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Most of the elements of the revitalization plan meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and will serve to enhance the extraordinary structure. The new west grand stair, for example, was carefully designed in order to complement--not duplicate--the original grand staircase.

Mill Brook Watershed Project, New Berlin, New York, Soil Conservation Service (SCS), 1992. SCS proposed to enclose the Mill Brook in a concrete conduit to protect New Berlin from floods. The brook is a contributing element to the New Berlin Historic District, and its enclosure would adversely affect this historic property. The village, the project's local sponsor, supported the proposal, but many citizens, especially those who live along the stream, did not. Section 106 provided the vehicle for locals to express their views about the project--both pros and cons. Consultation among SCS, the New York SHPO, the Council, the Village of New Berlin, and interested parties was terminated. The Council recommended that SCS withdraw its proposal, consult with the SHPO and the village to redesign the project with an open channel, and to seek technical expertise in the redesign that would effectively address the special needs of the historic setting. SCS adopted the Council's recommendations, and local citizens sent the Council a letter of thanks.

Rainbow Bridge Toll Plaza reconstruction, Niagara Falls, New York, General Services Administration (GSA), 1995. It is difficult to imagine a more overwhelming physical presence than Niagara Falls or, given its distinction as one of the busiest international border crossings in the United States, a more difficult place to meet the Federal Government's need for office space. Although managed by an international commission, the Rainbow Bridge Toll Plaza is located on U.S. soil in the middle of a Natural Landmark and a National Historic Landmark: the Niagara Reservation. GSA's original plan called for demolition of a portion of the existing Depression-era toll plaza and construction of a 3 to 5 story office building. Through consultation, the building was redesigned to minimize its height and reduce the adverse effect.

Route 9A (West Side Highway) reconstruction, New York, New York, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 1994. This $900 million proposal for reconstruction of a 5-mile segment of Route 9A in Manhattan presented the Section 106 process with major challenges. Expected to affect an estimated 500 archeological resources and numerous historic structures within the corridor, the project required entirely new and innovative approaches, to include reliance on contextual studies, to integrate cultural resources concerns into the actual construction project. The Memorandum of Agreement developed for the project has provided a solid foundation for the ongoing work and will substantially reduce costs that would have resulted from more traditional approaches.

Salmon River Hydroelectric Project relicensing, Oswego, New York, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), 1995. Under a Programmatic Agreement based on a prototype developed by the Council for Wisconsin, the holder of the FERC license for this facility must develop a plan for managing the cultural resources within the project boundaries for, and submit the project for review and approval by the other signatories to the agreement. Once it has been approved, the plan will govern operations and decisionmaking with a minimum of oversight or involvement from the Federal agencies.

Connecticut River streambank protection and site stabilization, Springfield, Vermont, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), 1994. Significant annual erosion along the Connecticut River outside Springfield was destroying the Skitchewag archeological site, the area's only prehistoric shell midden, which has yielded the earliest evidence of plant domestication in the region. In cooperation with the Vermont SHPO, and in consultation with the Council, NRCS developed a plan using riprap and some fill for the stabilization of the site's riverbank edge. The Council has expedited review of the project, and a combination of private and public agencies and organizations, including the New England Power Company, the Connecticut Joint Rivers Commission, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are assisting with support for the project as it proceeds.

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