2015-10-29 / Opinion

Naval Restoration Board Marks 20 Years, Seeks Members

By James Merolla

College students, environmentalists, and those who wish to improve the coastline along upper Aquidneck Island are invited to attend the Nov. 18 meeting of the Naval Station Restoration Advisory Board for the U.S. Navy’s Environmental Restoration Program.

The board is a great way to meet representatives from the U.S. Navy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, while helping to plan studies and restore cleanup sites.

Margaret Kirschner, a Newport resident and co-chair of the community board, spoke to the Middletown Town Council on Monday, Oct. 19 of the importance of its existence in advising and partaking in some of the most important cleanups of the Naval Base and other shorelines over the past two decades. The board will celebrate its 20th anniversary in November.

Kirschner said that the federallyestablished board is co-chaired by the environmental director of Naval

Station Newport, and included members of the Navy, the community, representatives of the E.P.A., and D.E.M.

“Several people in Middletown have been honored recently for their long participation on the board,” said Kirschner.

“The purpose of the board is that the E.P.A. requires that the Navy provide to the public information and status of the environmental remediation that they are conducting on base property,” said Kirschner. “It’s a great privilege to be there to provide comments and ask questions. I look to information for the public benefit, for the public good. I’d be happy to be a resource of information to you.”

David Brown of 600 Valley Road then solicited for new members. “The Navy Restoration Advisory Board can be a rich experience for those who may be interested,” said Brown. “In these 20 years, I have learned a lot and have had some influences on priorities. We are briefed on the programs themselves, the clean-up; we do have an influence on which gets cleaned up on the most compatible way to the community. Secondly, the Navy is cleaning up, down along the shoreline, but meanwhile you have watersheds drainage coming down near the Undersea Underwater Lab. So, so what is being done upstream can be very important at the same time the Navy is finishing its clean up.

“Thirdly, we need younger blood. We really need up and coming leaders. It’s a good way to get good experience,” said Brown. “College students, a lot of the younger people are interested in the environmental. Our meetings are every other month. It’s a wonderful opportunity for college students to really get into the nitty gritty.”

The board will meet at the Courtyard Marriott, 9 Commerce Drive, Middletown from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 18. For more information, go to rabnewportri.org or navfac.navy.mil.

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