- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — A Florida development firm is offering several new looks for Fort Monroe when the Army leaves the 570-acre, waterfront post by 2011.

The three designs have incorporated input from residents and includes historical preservation in and around the 19th-century stone fort, natural space on the opposite end near Buckroe Beach and limited commercial and residential development.

“We don’t believe that Fort Monroe should be frozen in amber, sealed up, mothballed,” said Victor Dover, a planner with the Coral Gables, Fla.-firm Dover, Kohl and Partners.

The firm, which was hired by a city-appointed board working with the Defense Department to oversee the post’s transition to civilian use, discussed the ideas yesterday with about 230 residents.

The firm will now analyze the three designs — which mostly vary in the amount of space that would be dedicated to a park and the density of residential development — to determine their economic and environmental impacts.

The Hampton Federal Area Development Authority will choose one plan, then work with state and federal officials on the base’s reuse.

Hampton City Manager Jesse Wallace called the firm’s work a good starting point. He said whatever becomes of the base, “there are going to be bills to pay. It is going to cost money, and we do have to have a revenue stream for that.”

The Army has said it spends $15 million a year to maintain the historic properties at the base.

It’s still not clear who will eventually take over the post because about half of the land belongs to the federal government and the rest reverts to the state when the Army leaves.

“I don’t know what the state is going to do,” said Delegate Thomas D. “Tom” Gear, Hampton Republican, who sits on the city-appointed steering committee. “All the feedback that I’m getting is that people don’t want it turned over to the city of Hampton.”

Ken Spence, a Hampton resident who was one of more than 500 people who offered input, thinks the planners are on track. But he is skeptical about the final design.

“I want some input down the line,” Mr. Spence said. “It’s like proofreading something before it’s done.”

Karen Detwiler, of Hampton, said planners didn’t heed public calls to leave the fort largely as is, turning it into a self-sustaining national park.

“To me, all these public meetings are so they can say they had public input,” she said.

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