Conservation, preservation groups tour JBSA installations
May 19, 2011
By Lori Newman
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO -- A pair of historic events affecting Joint Base San Antonio took place May 12 and 13.
In honor of Historic Preservation Month, the San Antonio Conservation Society, in conjunction with the Society for the Preservation of Historic Fort Sam Houston, sponsored a two-day tour of Fort Sam Houston, Camp Bullis and Randolph Air Force Base. A new Joint Base San Antonio Programmatic Agreement was also signed.
Fifty people, including city officials, members of the San Antonio Conservation Society and history buffs arrived by bus. The first stop of the tour was the Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle, followed by a windshield tour of the historic buildings and new construction on post.
"It's wonderful to see all the restructuring at Fort Sam Houston. These buildings are cherished," said Inell Schooler, from the San Antonio Conservation Society.
"The goal of the tour was to show the affect of the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) and joint basing on historic preservation and historic buildings," said Joan Gaither, president of the Society for the Preservation of Historic Fort Sam Houston and member of the San Antonio Conservation Society.
The group had lunch at the Stilwell House on Infantry Post Road. While at the Stilwell House, they witnessed Gaither signing the JBSA Programmatic Agreement.
The agreement was also signed by the 502nd Air Base Wing and the president of the San Antonio Conservation Society, The Society for the Preservation of Historic Fort Sam Houston, the Native American Tonkawa Tribe and is at the city's historic office with the expectation that they will sign the agreement soon.
"The new JBSA Programmatic Agreement replaces the Army's Alternate Procedures, in effect at Fort Sam Houston until Oct. 1, when we transitioned into Joint Base San Antonio," said Col. Mary Garr, commander of the 502nd Mission Support Group.
"The agreement will allow JBSA to more efficiently manage the historical properties on Fort Sam Houston and across JBSA working with the Texas Historical Commission, the San Antonio Conservation Society and Society for the Preservation of Historic Fort Sam Houston.
"Without this agreement, we would have to consult with the Texas Historical Commission on everthing we do in our historic buildings," Garr said. "With this agreement, certain types of undertakings are exempted from the consultation process."
"It's a gentlemen's agreement between all three installations and the Department of the Interior that all historic preservation guidelines will be followed at all three installations," Gaither said. "This is an agreement that everybody will follow the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act and the Secretary of the Interior's Standards, so that we don't have to consult when we have activities that fall under the stipulated exemptions."
According to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation website, the National Historic Preservation Act includes provisions that specifically address Federal Agencies' responsibilities when their activities involve National Historic Landmark properties. Section 106 and its implementing regulations, "Protection of Historic Properties" address Federal Agency responsibilities when an undertaking will affect properties eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
After lunch, the group proceeded to Randolph AFB for a walking tour of the base's historic buildings. The following day, the tour concluded at Camp Bullis where they visited several training sites and lunched on MREs.
"I thought the tour was very informative and very well done. I appreciated the opportunity very much." said District Attorney Susan Reed.
"I am very engaged in supporting the military in San Antonio and went to keep appraised of what is happening," Reed added.