Army secretary asked to decided future of JFTB composting project

On Thursday, Nov. 18, officials representing five local communities asked the Secretary of the Army to cancel the contract for the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos.

The Nov. 18 letter was addressed directly to Secretary of the Army John McHugh. Signed by the president of the Rossmoor Community Services District Board of Directors and the mayors of Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Cypress and Garden Grove, the letter said all five of their communities were suffering negative impacts from the composting project.

JFTB Commander Maj.Gen. John Harrell recently suspended the composting project in response to complaints about the stench created by the project.

The Nov. 18 letter was apparently a follow-up to an earlier letter sent to Harrell that also asked for the secretary of the U.S. Army to cancel the Business License Agreement with Agromin, a private sector contractor.

“We invite your specific attention to Section 1 of the license entitled ‘Term,’” the letter said. “The provision reads: ‘This license is granted for a term of five years, beginning March 19, 2009 and ending March 18, 2014, but revocable at will by the secretary.’” The letter displayed the last six words in bold to provide emphasis.

Like the previous letter to Harrell, the Nov. 18 letter to Secretary of the Army McHugh said that cancelling the license agreement was the only meaningful way to mitigate the negative impacts on traffic and quality of life of the residents of the five communities.

The letter said there had been a lack of transparency in awarding the license to Agromin. The letter also said there was a lack of “meaningful environmental consideration” of the composting project.

The letter invited the secretary to contact Cypress City Manager John Bahorski, the former Seal Beach city manager, to arrange a meeting with representatives of the four cities and one unincorporated community.

At a recent Seal Beach City Council meeting, Patti Campbell, president of the College Park East Neighborhood Association, expressed concern that the composting project could be reinstated.

McHugh became the 21st secretary of the U.S. Army on Sept. 21. As secretary of the Army, he has responsibility for all matters relating to the United States Army: manpower, personnel, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, equipment acquisition, communications  and financial management.

At the time of his appointment as secretary of the Army, McHugh was a sitting member of Congress representing Northern and Central New York.  The Republican congressman from New York served nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before accepting his appointment.