Delta officials say Army erred in range preference

Posted: Friday, August 15, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Delta Junction officials say a mathematical error by the U.S. Army is good reason a U.S. District Court judge should stop a planned expansion of a training range just outside the city.

According to a federal lawsuit filed by the Interior city, the criteria used by the Army to determine where to locate its new Stryker Brigade training facility just doesn't add up and the Finding of No Significant Impact is in error.

The Army's numbers show Donnelly Flats, not Eddy Drop Zone, should be the location for the $77 million in range improvements, according to the city's request for a permanent injunction, filed Aug. 4.

''Delta has no objection to the Donnelly Flats site, the location which (U.S. Army Alaska's) own internal documents suggest is the preferred site,'' writes James DeWitt, city attorney.

Maj. Dan Hunter, public affairs officer for U.S. Army Alaska, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner the Army will not comment on the pending legal action.

Pete Hallgren, Delta's city administrator, said the Army can have as long as it needs to respond as long as the city has assurances work on the Eddy Drop Zone project will not continue in the meantime.

The injunction seeks to halt the development and construction of a combined arms collective training facility, a battle area complex and a collective training facility at Eddy Drop Zone.

The collective training range is set for completion by next April. The battle area complex a live-fire training facility for the Stryker Brigade is set for September 2005.

The combined arms collective training facility simulated city environment is slated for fall 2007.

The tabulations in question are from working documents obtained by the city showing the Army's scoring for the four sites under consideration for the expansion: Eddy Drop Zone, Windy Ridge, North Texas Range and Donnelly Flats. Of the sites, Eddy is the closest to the city.

All are part of the Donnelly Training area, the 865,000-acre maneuvers area that surrounds Fort Greely.

Sites were rated on impact, training and costs.

Donnelly Flats scored the highest in impacts, meaning it would generate the least impact. It scored 18 points, compared to Eddy's 15.

In training criteria, the Army noted 30 points for Donnelly, compared to 31 for Eddy. But the numbers in the columns actually add up to 35 for Donnelly, making it the first choice in training criteria.

Among other allegation, the lawsuit contends the Army failed to adequately address the high fire danger of having the Army maneuvers about 3 miles downwind of Delta Junction. The city also says the Army failed to adequately address concerns about safety regarding weapons discharge. The proposed site is less than a mile from the nearest home.

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