Friday, February 13, 2009

Mayor seeks Obama's help to keep fort open

I'll be honest, so far I've been impressed with the new Oceanport administration.  They are making real, honest efforts on the Monmouth Park front and now they are stepping up their work on the Fort Monmouth front as well. Hopefully their efforts on both of these issues is recognized and their work pays off with an end to the pollution problems at Monmouth Park (which Pallone - and Holt if he's still even pretending to do his job - STILL has been silent/unresponsive on the issue) and the saving of thousands of jobs at the fort. 

As emailed to me by Oceanport Councilman Joseph Irace:
Mayor seeks Obama's help to keep fort open

By Carol Gorga Williams • COASTAL MONMOUTH BUREAU • February 13, 2009
OCEANPORT — Borough officials are trying a new avenue to spare Fort Monmouth from closure and save its jobs: Mayor Michael J. Mahon has written to President Barack Obama and asked him to take a second look at the issue.
Borough Councilman Joseph Irace said the decision to seek the intervention from the new administration came after borough residents said they heard rumors Fort Monmouth was targeted by the Bush administration because New Jersey was considered a Democratic stronghold.
"They had heard rumblings beforehand," said Irace of residents with connections to the fort. "The rumblings were always it was closed because it was the Republican administration closing it in a Democratic state," said Irace, a Republican. Now, "we've heard rumors (the new administration) might reopen BRAC," he said of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission process.
"Maybe there is another way around it," said Irace, citing information developed by the Asbury Park Press that indicates the potential savings that could come to the army from closing Fort Monmouth are grossly overstated.
Acknowledging the action could be considered a "Hail Mary pass," officials say they will try every possible way to get officials to reconsider, especially when the evidence gathered in support of the fort occurred in a much different economic climate.
"This situation seems to be a no-brainer," said Mahon. "There is an opportunity to preserve — at least for a certain period of time — the 5,500 jobs within the fences of Fort Monmouth and the 15,000 to 20,000 jobs connected to Fort Monmouth. If there is an opportunity to do that, I just wanted to point that out to the president," said Mahon, noting he hasn't gotten any sense the new administration would reopen the BRAC process. "This is probably less expensive than any other alternatives they are considering."
For the host communities of Oceanport, Eatontown and Tinton Falls, economic turmoil has been a fact of life since the decision — much of which local officials believe was based on flawed information — was announced that the fort would close in 2011.
"Despite evidence disputing the "savings' to be achieved by the closure, the prospect of reversing the BRAC decision has received little attention," wrote Mahon to Obama. "We need your help."
Although money already has been spent to prepare the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for taking on the fort's mission, it is not too late for officials to put an end to a bad decision, Mahon said.
"Simply put, closing Fort Monmouth in this economy is ill-advised," wrote the mayor, a Republican. "The current economic turmoil combined with the base closure, will be disastrous for its host communities."
If the closure cannot be reversed, it should be delayed for three to five years or the fort's assets and property should be conveyed to the communities at a discount, as an economic stimulus plan for the region, Mahon suggested.
One thing that stands out in my mind is that, as I noted, the Oceanport administration seems to be working VERY hard to keep jobs and rateable and they even had scheduled some honest discussion of if shared county 911 services would benefit the township (money vs response times). I don't know where that discussion has lead, if anywhere, but at least these guys are making some efforts and trying to save the taxpayers some money. 

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that just a town over in Eatontown, things doesn't seem to be going as well. Saturn of Eatontown is closing/has closed. I saw a few dozen trucks hauling cars off yesterday and couldn't help but notice that right across the street is the site of a former Pathmark store, in the same plaza where Circuit City is also closing.  I've also noted a lot more empty office space, and the corresponding "space for lease" signs up along Industrial Way and I have to think that the Eatontown administration, along with our state legislators need to follow the lead of Oceanport's administration in working to keep business running without putting the burden on the taxpayers. Steve Lonegan seems to have a plan that makes sense for New Jersey.

Again, kudos to Mr. Irace and Mr. Mahon and hopefully these guys keep up the pressure on Monmouth Park and on the federal gov't to keep Fort Monmouth open - things our congressman (Pallone and Holt) could be doing if they weren't too busy serving the needs of India.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mike Mahon is the only elacted official on the redevelopment committee that is working for the people.
The rest sre in the bag for the politicos and developers.

If only the mayors in Tinton falls and Eatontown along with the realtor Freeholder where as good as he is.