Bennett clarifies his role in Earle legislation

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John O. Bennett III Guest Column

In your Dec. 6 edition, I read the article with respect to the Tinton Falls Borough Council joining the efforts to change the law on the location for the education of children residing at Earle.

I felt the president of the Board of Education, Peter Karavites, has significantly misrepresented certain facts and felt obligated to correct same. It was reported that I was the author of the legislation at the time that I was also the attorney for Colts Neck and their school board.

The reality of the case is that while I supported the enabling legislation at the time, the sponsor was then- Assemblyman Joseph Palaia and then- Assemblyman Joseph Kyrillos.

I was instrumental in working with both Colts Neck and Tinton Falls, as well as the state and federal government, in securing an agreement that all parties joined and confirmed as in their best interests. I believe that as a legislator representing multiple municipalities, it would have been inappropriate to have pitted one municipality within my district against another municipality.

Leadership meant that a solution that was workable for all parties needed to be found, and the Board of Education at that time representing Tinton Falls was most anxious to have the agreement entered into to secure additional funds.

Absolutely, facts change and the concern as to what will happen at Earle today is a legitimate one for both the towns of Tinton Falls and Colts Neck. I believe it would be beneficial for parties to work toward a resolution which is acceptable to both towns and that setting individuals in one municipality against another is counterproductive and not conducive to the proper role of an elected official.

I have never been the attorney for the Colts Neck Board of Education, and any representation of such is just wrong.

Following the adoption of the 1988 legislation, the Board of Education applied to the county superintendent of schools to be the district that educated the students at Earle. This application followed the passage of a resolution by the Tinton Falls Board of Education to authorize the designation.

The current Board of Education should tell the facts when reporting the history, instead of alluding that the state “imposed” the current situation on the borough.

The bottom line with respect to the housing at Earle Weapons Station is that it is totally inappropriate to move civilians onto a military ammunition depot, and the security risk is so significant as to be ludicrous. This should be a unified position of both municipalities, calling on the federal legislators to support it and maintain the position; working together, municipalities can accomplish much. Fighting each other may result in the federal government hurting both the municipalities as well as the entire county.

John O. Bennett III, Esq.

Red Bank