In 2017 the National Park Service (NPS) began a planning process for the Charlestown Navy Yard (CNY) to allow the park to offer a cohesive visitor experience and provide greater stewardship of park resources. Working with the U.S. Navy and the USS Constitution Museum, it developed a Visitor Experience Plan and studies identifying how the park's facilities could be utilized more efficiently while addressing deferred maintenance. The resulting master development strategy was presented to the public at a Sept. 2019 public meeting. Since then, further studies have refined that strategy and the NPS has begun a more formal preliminary project planning phase leading to development of an Environmental Assessment to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Preliminary Project Planning
The purpose of the preliminary project planning phase is to gather all information needed to meaningfully analyze project effects prior to beginning the formal NEPA process. Preliminary project planning includes the following steps:
(1) Develop and refine the proposed action as well as preliminary alternatives to the proposed action; (2) Develop and refine a statement of the purpose and need for the project; (3) Develop a list of significant or relevant environmental issues that may need to be analyzed; (4) Identify legal and policy issues relevant to the project; (5) Identify any data gaps or issues that could affect the efficiency of the NEPA process; and (6) Develop strategies for collecting input from stakeholders, the public, and other agencies.
Civic Engagement Process for CNY:
NPS is currently gathering public and stakeholder input on NPS's ideas and concepts for improving visitor experience at the site. NPS will review all comments submitted. This will help the NPS to shape the proposed action and alternatives.
Following the pre-NEPA planning process, a 6-month NEPA process will be initiated.
NEPA Process for CNY:
The NEPA process will begin when NPS has developed a proposal to the point where its environmental impacts can be meaningfully analyzed. The NEPA process will involve the following steps:
NPS will prepare a scoping newsletter and other informative material to announce the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) and to provide information about the proposed action, alternatives, project issues, and potential impacts.
NPS will prepare a draft EA that will include the purpose and need for the project, the proposed action, alternatives to the proposed action, a description of the environment of the CNY site and surrounding areas, and the effects that could occur to the natural and human environment as a result of implementing the proposed project and alternatives.
When the draft EA is complete, it will be published on the NPS website for public review.
Once the draft EA is published, NPS will host an in-person and a virtual meeting to take comments during a 30-day public comment period.
NPS will review all public comments on the draft EA and will either make revisions to the EA or include a response to the comments in an appendix to the final EA.
Following revisions to the draft EA, if no significant impacts are found to result from the proposed project, a final EA will be released.
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and Non-Impairment Determination:
If the proposed action is not likely to cause significant environmental impacts, NPS will prepare a FONSI. A non-impairment determination will be appended to the FONSI. A non-impairment determination states in writing that, in the professional judgement of the NPS decision-maker, the action selected in the NPS decision document (FONSI, in this case) will not result in impairment to park resources or values.
This step will conclude NPS's NEPA process.
Previous Planning Efforts