NGA West Draft Environmental Impact Statement Released

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Next NGA West - St. Louis, MO

Today the NGA has released the Draft Environmental Impact Study for the next NGA West headquarters in the St. Louis area. Although four sites are examined in the report, politically only two sites remain in the running – North St. Louis City and St. Clair County, IL.

[Click here for high-resolution images of the proposed NGA North City site]

A quick read of the executive summary shows that the St. Louis City site competes well with the green field site in the metro east. On an expansive list of factors, each site is seen as having positive and negative impacts. The draft EIS weighs in on the side of the city as the NGA leaving would negatively impact St. Louis. One negative of the St. Clair County site is an known archeological site at that location. There’s much, much more of course.

Executive Summaring Findings:

ES-11.3 St. Louis City Site

The city of St. Louis intends to redevelop the St. Louis City Site and offered this site as an option to evaluate for the EIS. The city has since amended the 2009 Redevelopment Master Plan to accommodate the NGA proposal. Granting opportunities through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal initiatives have been advanced, making this project consistent with area future land use plans. There would be both major impacts and benefits associated with the St. Louis City Site.

Within the footprint of the St. Louis City Site, there are known historic properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The construction of the project would require the demolition of the Buster Brown-Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory and homes within the footprint of the St. Louis Place Historic District. NGA, USACE, and the city of St. Louis are currently reaching out to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, and local historic interest groups to determine the appropriate mitigation for impacts to NRHP-listed resources.

Siting the Next NGA West Campus at the St. Louis City Site could result in major benefits from the change in visual character at the site. Additional non-major benefits would include health and safety improvements, construction spending, induced employment, cleanup of existing hazardous contamination, land use improvements, and the reduction of weed species.

Following the analysis performed for the St. Louis City site, it is anticipated that other minor to moderate negative environmental impacts could occur to the following resources:

  • Socioeconomics–Changing to federal ownership at this location would result in a loss of property tax paid to the city of St. Louis (approximately $64,180), but the City would retain the City Total Earnings Tax from NGA personnel.
  • Land Use–The city of St. Louis is working on agreements with local community members for property purchases and relocations. All relocations and displacements would occur in compliance with the Missouri relocation statutes, which require fair compensation for relocated individuals.
  • Health and safety–Road realignments could result in a minor impact to emergency response times in the area.
  • Traffic and transportation–There would be an impact to the roadway network at the two entrances to the NGA campus without signals, which are located along Jefferson Avenue and Cass Avenue. NGA would coordinate with MoDOT to install actuated traffic signals to alleviate this issue.
  • Noise–Noise during construction would be noticeable to nearby residences and businesses.
  • Hazardous material and solid waste–This site would generate approximately 85,650 cubic yards of solid waste before re-use or recycling. This amount is approximately 0.03 percent of the total permitted capacity of the three regional landfills that accept construction and demolition material.
  • Biology–Migratory birds could be affected by the Proposed Action during construction.
  • Utilities–Site development would require upgrades to utility infrastructure and new connections, including power supply and service, potable water supply and services, wastewater and stormwater services, and communications.
  • Air quality and climate change–An increase in NAAQS criteria pollutant and CO2e emissions would occur. However, emission levels would be below regulatory thresholds.

Standard BMPs, as defined in Table ES-1 and summarized at the end of each resource section, would need to be implemented to ensure environmental impacts are maintained below defined thresholds.

 

ES-11.4 St. Clair County Site

St. Clair County offered the St. Clair County Site as an option to be evaluated for the EIS. To accommodate the NGA proposal, a county zoning restriction of building heights has been lifted to allow for campus construction at this location. No major environmental benefits are associated with this site; however, there is a potential major negative impact.

A previously identified archaeological site listed on the NRHP is located within the footprint of the St. Clair County Site. Because of the potential impacts to this archeological site, NGA, USACE, and St. Clair County are currently reaching out to the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office and local interest groups to determine the appropriate mitigation for impacts to this resource.

Minor to moderate benefits may result from the reduction of potential noxious weeds on the site, health and safety improvements, land use improvements.

Following the analysis performed for the St. Clair County site, it is anticipated that minor to moderate, negative environmental impacts could occur to the following resources:

  • Socioeconomics–The city of St. Louis would lose approximately $2.19 million in City Total Earnings Tax through the loss of tax from NGA non-residents of St. Louis. There would be no change to the County’s property tax revenue; the site is already exempt from property taxes because it is County-owned. However, St. Clair County would no longer receive the income associated with current agricultural leases.
  • Traffic and transportation–There would be an impact to the St. Clair County Site roadway network at the signalized intersection of Route 158 at Wherry Road. NGA would coordinate with IDOT to add an exclusive right turn lane to westbound Wherry Road to alleviate this issue.
  • Utilities–Site development would require upgrades to utility infrastructure and new connections, including power supply and service, potable water supply and services, wastewater and stormwater services, and communications.
  • Water resources–A single, forested wetland, approximately 2.1 acres in size, is located in the southwestern part of the site. Under the Proposed Action, construction activities would most likely displace the wetland on the site. Other surface waters include a 2,092-linear-foot perennial stream, an intermittent stream, and a 0.9-acre pond. Impacts to the surface waterbodies that qualify as waters of the United States from the proposed infrastructure construction would require a CWA Section 404 permit from USACE, St. Louis District and Section 401 Water Quality Certification from IEPA.
  • Biological resources–Site development would impact present wildlife and vegetation.
  • Air quality and climate change–It is anticipated that an average roundtrip commute would increase from 26.4 miles to 58.2 miles based on current workforce zip codes. Despite the increase in commute distance, the annual operational emissions would be less than the federal de minimis thresholds for criteria pollutants and the 25,000-metric ton reporting threshold for CO2e.
  • Airspace–Because of the proximity to Scott AFB, NGA would coordinate with the FAA to perform an aeronautical study under 14 CFR 77 to determine the potential impacts to flight patterns and operations within the existing airspace. There should be minimal change to flight patterns if this site is selected.

Standard BMPs, as defined in Table ES-1 and summarized at the end of each resource section, would need to be implemented to ensure environmental impacts are maintained below defined thresholds.

Next NGA West Draft EIS, St. Louis – Executive Summary by nextSTL.com

Next NGA West Draft EIS, St. Louis – Full Report by nextSTL.com

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  • Alex Devlin

    Has anyone reported how many of their current employees leave for lunch/break? This plan (although wasteful) does give their employees the opportunity to leave and be connected to the neighborhood. Thats something the current site doesn’t do as well.

    • Alex Devlin

      Thats also something the St. Clair site doesn’t do at all.

  • Mike H.

    I’m interested in learning what might happen with the current NGA site. I’ve read somewhere that it is in fact a pretty cool historical area – a Civil War era military compound, correct?

  • rgbose

    This is a big drawback of St. Clair Co site. The expense public and private to support job sprawl is making us poor. “It is anticipated that an average roundtrip commute would increase from 26.4 miles to 58.2 miles based on current workforce zip codes.”

    • Brian

      I imagine employees would eventually move closer to the site, turning more of those cornfields off Green Mount Road into housing sites. That is, unless the schools are crappy.

  • pat

    So NGA would own this up to the streets surrounding the site? Is that right? It would be nice if you could surround the site with housing facing the street if it still kept their required “buffer”. Maybe a 50ft border of town houses or row housing surrounding the site.

    • Andy

      This is a great idea but I would not hold my breath.

  • Presbyterian

    I think one of the largest positives to the St. Louis site is that it will define the western edge of the St. Louis Place neighborhood, which currently bleeds away into block after block of emptiness.

    The neighborhood already has a strong edge to the south, with the brewery and other housing. To the east is Old North, which continues to rebound. The remaining footprint of the St. Louis Place neighborhood would feel fairly well bounded, defined and secure. New residential development there would seem much more manageable.

    Also, I like that St. Louis Avenue is spared. No street in north city has such potential.

    I would love to see funds devoted to rebuilding the St. Louis Place park. It’s an amazing bit of urban design — looks like a nineteenth century hippodrome — surrounded by a mix of historic architecture and newer infill. It again could be the centerpiece of an amazing neighborhood.

    And Illinois should protect its wetlands and archaeological sites.

    • STLEnginerd

      I think the city needs to revisit the official neighborhood boundaries. I agree that much of the neighborhood will feel more defined but parts will be badly separated from the neighborhood core. For instance the part of the neighborhood west of Parnell should be ceded to JeffVanderLou, which needs a new name.

      Southwest gardens is in a similar situation, split in two by Kingshighway.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Yes – long overdue. I’m still hoping for Lafayette Square East, or simply an expansion of Lafayette Square. Quite a few other places could change too. Southwest Garden should be split and join The Hill and Shaw.

    • We have to stop treating our fellow St. Louisans’ neighborhoods — and the ability to enjoy self-determination for where people live — as expendable. My friends and colleagues who live in St. Louis Place and JeffVanderLou don’t call it “emptiness.” The people who have spent their own money maintaining houses on St. Louis Avenue have already seen the “potential.” I know that you mean well. I am frustrated that so many people covet the neighborhood wealth that already exists in these places, and that projects like NGA avoid the serious human rights questions of such development.

  • Andy

    Well, I guess we know why they shouldn’t build it in St. Louis:

    “Biology–Migratory birds could be affected by the Proposed Action during construction.”

    Laughable. The FBI building is “secure” at 222 Market and doesn’t need 700 foot buffer zones. The PENTAGON is less than 200 feet from Washington Blvd in Arlington, VA and 150 feet away from the 9/11 memorial which is open to visitors all the time. The renderings have buffer zones, from what I can tell, ~500-700 feet away from any street with two giant parking garages acting as an additional buffer. Easy solution: give them HALF of the land and have them put the buildings 150 feet from the street, build a taller single parking garage and scrap the baseball fields.

    • Alex Ihnen

      There are a lot of positives and negatives in the comprehensive report, including the negative impact of relocated a driving range at the St. Clair site, and the benefit of removing non-native weeds at the St. Louis City site. These individual points can seem superfluous, but the EIS is meant to be comprehensive.

      It doesn’t seem as though the city is in a position to tell the NGA how to design its building.

      • Do we really know where the 122 acre site boundary originated? In an interview, Paul McKee stated that he came up with the site plan by responding to NGA’s RFP. City officials have stated that NGA mandated the site, and that their first choice was Pruitt-Igoe. The NGA has not released any information that would shed light on how this plan was created.

    • St. Louis has a comprehensive land use plan that set public goals for that site that contradict this proposal. Why didn’t the City of St. Louis back up the land use plan when NGA came knocking? Urban planning seems expendable in local government.