FMERA to set formula for cost of fort parcels

Authority will weigh seven criteria to determine price tag for fort properties


Host towns and other entities that want to acquire properties at Fort Monmouth will have to wait a little longer to find out what those properties will cost them. The resolution setting the formula for final costs of property acquisition was tabled at the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority’s (FMERA) Sept. 19 meeting at the request of mayors of the three municipalities that host the former fort.

“This isn’t only going to affect Tinton Falls, it is going to affect Monmouth County, Eatontown and Oceanport at some point,” Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Scudera said.

“I think we need to really look at the weighted process for this, get a little more detail. We are putting in a formula where each of the towns and the county are going to have to put in large sums of money. I think we should have more discussion on it … a little more thought to how the weighting is done.”

Bruce Steadman, executive director of FMERA, explained at the meeting that the authority is developing the criteria that will be used in evaluating NOIs (notices of intent) indicating interest in acquiring a property.

The evaluation process would apply seven weighted criteria to an NOI to determine what discount would be applied to a fair market appraisal of the property.

This is the first base closing by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in which the distribution of land requires payment by the entities acquiring the properties.

Steadman explained that given the anticipated costs associated with the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth, FMERA staff has recommended that no properties be transferred without compensation.

“With 1,100 acres and 5 million squarefeet of buildings, we probably have a $60 million demolition bill and we can’t afford to give stuff away,” Steadman said in an interview.

“We don’t have enough income to fix what needs to be fixed, so we have to find a way for everyone to pay a little to some extent.”

According to the resolution, the seven criteria include: surrounding area (neighborhood) continuity; job creation use; services to municipality; regional fiscal impact; ability to attract jobs to adjacent tract; public good, public safety, or public education; and reduction of FMERA infrastructure or demolition costs.

Each criterion is assigned a weight factor determined by importance, Steadman said.

“Some are more important than others like job creation [20 points]. That is our mission so we felt that has to be most important. The other 20-pointer was public use which is also important,” he said.

Steadman explained that when an NOI is evaluated, it would be given a score from 1 to 10, which would then be multiplied by the assigned weight to get the total points for each criterion.

For example for a job creation use, the weight is 20 points. An NOI given an 8 in that area would receive a weighted score of 160, he said.

The weighted scores for the seven criteria would be totaled and the sum would reflect the NOI’s relative merit.

Compensation to FMERA for a property would be determined by reducing the appraised value by a percentage factor equal to 10 percent of the total weighted score, not to exceed 90 percent of the parcel’s appraised value.

Oceanport Mayor Michael Mahon explained that the majority of NOI’s have been submitted by municipal, county or nonprofit organizations and the weighted values should reflect the public benefit provided by those organizations.

“The value of the overall project in terms of job creation would be minimal because in and of themselves, they would be serving the community,” he said.

“Their whole purpose as a form of government or a nonprofit charity providing local services is not to generate jobs but to be a public benefit so providing higher values where they perform normally will certainly benefit them in getting a higher score and achieving the best possible discount.” Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo asked why the evaluation process is being applied to phase one of the fort redevelopment.

“I thought phase one was a done deal,” he said.

Steadman explained that for phase one there are only two parcels for which NOI’s have been submitted.

Those are the teen center and swimming pool [requested by] Monmouth County and the school, which Tinton Falls is seeking.

“Those are both NOI. It was proposed that this process would evaluate how those would be transacted as well as any in the future in phase two to make it consistent throughout,” Steadman explained.

In response to the concerns raised, Steadman suggested that FMERA staff meet with the three mayors and Monmouth County officials to review the evaluation process and resolve any issues.

The next FMERA meeting is scheduled for Oct. 17 at the Tinton Fall Municipal Building.