PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - More than 100 central California residents joined the Fort Ord Base Realignment and Closure staff on free bus tours and an open house at Ord Military Community June 26.

The tours are a way to let interested residents know the latest status of the former Army post, explained Lyle Shurtleff, manager of the Fort Ord BRAC Office's Military Munitions Response Program, who also served as a tour guide for the day.

"The open house events are designed to provide interested community members with a general overview of the scope and objectives of the environmental cleanup of the former Fort Ord," Shurtleff said.

"They provide interested community members an opportunity to speak directly and candidly with the project managers, engineers and scientists involved in the design and operation of cleanup actions that can impact the quality of life for local residents, communities, and the environment," he added.

The bus tour began at warehouse and took the residents around Ord, skirting the cities of Salinas, Marina and Seaside, for a little over an hour. There was even a break between the information snippets to go into a "seventh inning stretch," complete with the participatory singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

"I thought it was great," said Emily Deisroth, who brought her family on the tour for the first time after receiving a postcard invitation from the Fort Ord BRAC staff. "I was curious about Fort Ord since coming here in January. ... We drive around the base all the time; it just looks so surreal."

Although newcomers like the Deisroth family were among the tourists, Shurtleff said most of the participants were repeat visitors.

"Several community members have attended more than one open house and express an appreciation that the open houses allow them to keep up with what is going on without having to attend official meetings or review complicated documents," he explained.

"A lot of the stuff, we've seen and didn't know anything about. Now I learned what those big piles of dirt are," said Deisroth.

The next Fort Ord BRAC open house will be in February.

In addition to the semi-annual open house events, quarterly community information workshops and the local school-safety program, access to Fort Ord environmental cleanup specialists and managers is available to interested groups and organizations throughout the year. Speakers, safety training and area tours are available for groups of 20 or more by contacting the community relations office of the Fort Ord Environmental Cleanup at 831-242-7383 or 1-800-852-9699.

Page last updated Tue June 29th, 2010 at 17:20