Taxpayers own Fort Monmouth

When I first heard of collaboration, it was “with the enemy.” Of course, I do not want to consider business my foe; but attending the meeting about Fort Monmouth’s future that Gov. Jon Corzine held on March 14 at Brookdale Community College, I could not help noticing that there was a receptacle at the sign-in for business cards plus a hand-out principally concerning Tech Preserve, a state initiative to keep technical business in New Jersey.

The governor was most enthusiastic about this project; but later, when answering the few questions permitted from the audience, he was lukewarm toward the possibility of keeping the veterans’ clinic open.

One would think that the scandalous conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center would force the administration to keep the clinic open to avoid offending its veteran supporters.

At an earlier meeting, a member of the public had asked that a mental facility be added for the many returning troops who suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. This reasonable suggestion was ignored. “Support the troops,” indeed!

In response to the last permitted question concerning affordable housing, his “yes, but not enough” was equally lukewarm. Somehow his priorities were somewhat different from those expressed at the FMERPA meetings. The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization and Planning Authority Director was most emphatic that no developers had spoken with their group. Even though he had averred that the Army would decide if their surplus property would adhere to a law that gives charitable organizations first choice, paperwork for these groups was complicated and obliged to be in by March 8.

The FMERPA director had also visited California to observe their closed military installations and discovered to his amazement that homes built there that cost $800,000 looked just like the “affordable” $350,000 ones.

Obviously, Direc-tor Frank Consentino has been fortunate enough never to be homeless. Even if they allow any such boon to the unfortunate here, they are only considering the percent of affordable housing that was mandated after court cases. That limitation is apparently why the governor replied, “not enough.” However, why should there be a limitation when there is a verifiable need? Do they want to repeat the experience of Vietnam veterans who became homeless – to our shame – because they did not receive adequate care or benefits?

The “collaborators” made the Brookdale meeting seem like the political train to Washington. Unless the public realizes that this valuable property belongs to them as taxpayers who bought and maintain it, the opportunity to turn “swords into plowshares” will be commercialized to “swords into profits.”

Amanda Porter

Bradley Beach