Ft. Monmouth seeks local input on closure plan

Authority schedules 5 meetings to hear suggestions on future uses of site
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
BY MARYANN SPOTO, Star-Ledger Staff

With just six months to submit a proposal for the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth, the agency working on the base closure plan is calling on residents from the affected communities to help design the final product.

The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Planning Authority, or FMERPA, has scheduled five meetings this month to get public input on how the 1,100 acres occupied by the base should look after it closes in four years.

During these meetings, Edaw Inc., the international land-design firm hired to oversee redevelopment plans for the property, will ask participants to rate a series of images — ranging from high rises to streetscapes — on their desirability and suitability for the area.

Participation from as many residents as possible from the surrounding towns and elsewhere is key to crafting a plan that will meet the least resistance, Edaw principal Timothy Delorm said yesterday at a press briefing at Fort Monmouth.

“It’s a chance to break the paradigm of parochialism,” said Delorm.

In the 2 1/2-hour gatherings, participants also will be asked to fill out a questionnaire and help design a giant map of the site to assist planners in visualizing things such as open-space corridors or troublesome traffic intersections, said Anton Nelessen, principal of A. Nelessen Associates, the Belle Mead firm that will run the meetings.

Delorm said FMERPA has a Dec. 8 deadline to submit to the Department of Defense a master redevelopment plan, a market and economic analysis, an environmental report and a transportation study.

Edaw will hold five public meetings, known in architectural circles as charettes, this month, and will most likely hold other public meetings sometime in July or August to present a preliminary plan based on the earlier gatherings, Nelessen said.

Then the plan would face market analysis, environmental study and engineering review, he said.

Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantola called the schedule “very aggressive” and said complying with the deadline will rely on “extreme efficiency.”

In anticipation of a possible fort closing, the borough devised a plan in 2003 about how to develop a housing section within its border known as Howard Commons. That plan, which recommends a combination of age-restricted, affordable and market-rate housing, as well as commercial development, will also go to FMERPA, he said.

Oceanport Mayor Lucille Chaump said her community is developing a plan for the 419 acres of the fort that is within its borders.

“It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to be exciting. I can’t wait to move forward,” she said.

The upcoming community charettes, all scheduled for 6:30 p.m., will be held June 18 at the Eatontown Municipal Building; June 19 at the Maple Place School in Oceanport; June 21 at the new municipal center building in Tinton Falls and June 25 at the Monmouth County agriculture building in Freehold. Another countywide public meeting is planned for 7 p.m. on June 12 at the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University in West Long Branch.

Mary Ann Spoto may be reached at (732) 462-8603.
© 2007 The Star Ledger
© 2007 NJ.com All Rights Reserved.