Whatever becomes of 1,400 surplus acres at Fort George G. Meade, Army engineers say the environment will remain unharmed.
Other government agencies, naturalists and the base's Odenton neighbors will havea chance to rebut that assessment tonight.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold a 7 p.m. public hearing at Meade High School on its draft Environmental Impact Statement.
The statement outlines the alternatives being considered for the 1,400 acres, which includes the 400-acre Tipton Airfield and a sanitarylandfill.
* Selling the property for mixed-residential, commercial and industrial use and leasing the airfield forcontinued Army use.
* Transferring the property to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.
* Building a homeless center.
* Dividing it among other federal agencies, including the Postal Service, which needs a mail distribution center, and the Department of Justice, which wants to build a correctional officer training facility.
Noneof those options would cause irreparable harm to the largely wooded,undeveloped property, the report said.
The population of deer andother wildlife may explode, the report said. The Army has long allowed hunting there to control animal populations. Without Army management, hunting may no longer be allowed, the report said.
If the Armysells the property to private developers, then it will have to clearportions of the tract to test for unexploded ordnance left over fromthe artillery practice range.
The Army will have to clean up the site's half-dozen or more uncharted landfills, which may contain toxic chemicals, the report said. A second report, detailing where those landfills are and how that clean up will be conducted, is due next March.
The Army has already surrendered 7,600 acres to Patuxent, a federally operated game preserve. Patuxent officials said they do not want the 1,000 acres that constitute the airfield and landfills.
The county-appointed Fort Meade Coordinating Council will ask the Armyto give the remaining 400 acres to Patuxent as well, said it chairman, retired Army Lt. Col. Alfred H. M. Shehab.