TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ellen Karcher and Joseph Kyrillos which would create the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority and economically prepare the region for the federally-mandated closure of Fort Monmouth, was approved today by the Senate by a vote of 39-0, receiving final legislative approval.
“We must be ready for the future of Fort Monmouth,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “With the federal BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) Commission’s decision to close down the base, the fate of the property, as well as the economic vitality of the region, come into question. We need a qualified agency steering the ship, and leading Fort Monmouth and the surrounding region into safe waters.”
“This bipartisan legislation establishes a framework to carry out the mission of redeveloping Fort Monmouth that will involve collaboration between the State, county and local governments with private sector leaders,” said Senator Kyrillos, R-Monmouth and Middlesex. “I felt this was the best way to approach the problem, and I am pleased the legislation is advancing.”
The bill, S-1472, would establish the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority in the Department of the Treasury. The Authority would be responsible for developing and implementing an economic conversion and revitalization plan for the Fort Monmouth property. The panel would include the mayors of the three municipalities that have a direct stake in the property — Tinton Falls, Eatontown and Oceanport — as well as members appointed by the Governor, a local business representative, and State representatives with expertise in labor issues, environmental issues, and redevelopment and real estate issues.
“The Authority is going to be charged with finding balance between competing public interests, and I think the configuration we’ve decided on will be best suited to do just that,” said Senator Karcher. “Under this bill, we will give municipal, State and private interests a seat at the table in shaping the future of Fort Monmouth. Through their combined expertise and sensitivity to the various goals of redefining Fort Monmouth’s place in the community, I am confident that they will be successful.”
“The future of Fort Monmouth is important to the State and region, and the establishment of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority is the first step in a long process of reinventing the Fort,” said Senator Kyrillos.
Senator Karcher also noted that the Revitalization Authority would be governed by strict ethics regulations to ensure that redevelopment is accomplished without corruption. Additionally, the Authority would have to comply with the State’s “pay-to-play” restrictions that prohibit the agency from contracting with any business entity for more than $17,500 if the entity has made a contribution to any member of the Authority, or to the State, county or municipal party of any member sitting on the Authority.
“Unscrupulous individuals are already looking to exploit Fort Monmouth’s redevelopment for their own personal enrichment,” said Senator Karcher. “We need protections in place to ensure that the economic revitalization taking place at Fort Monmouth is guided by ethical principles, not campaign cash. We need to promote a better way to redevelop the area.”
The bill was originally approved by the Senate earlier in the month by a unanimous vote, but the legislation required a second vote to amendments made on the bill in the Assembly. Assemblyman Mike Panter is the sponsor of the Assembly counterpart.