By John Burton
SANDY HOOK – The U.S. Secretary of the Interior has appointed 20 area people to serve on a committee intended to again look at the future uses for buildings at Fort Hancock.
Secretary Ken Salazar chose the committee members to participate on the Gateway National Recreation Area Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee, which will offer recommendations for what should eventually be done with the aging structures and what would be the appropriate uses at the historic former military installation.
The committee is being formed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), with its members selected from the 30 applications submitted for consideration, according to the National Park Service (NPS).
Those selected are:
Monmouth County Freeholder
president of the Eastern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce
president of Charles B. Hembling and Son, a Shrewsbury construction contracting firm
Mary Eileen Fouratt,
executive director of the Monmouth Arts Council, Red Bank
professor emeritus of geosciences, New Jersey City University
George M. Conway,
a Sea Bright resident, secretary/treasurer and board of directors member of Trap Rock Industries, Kingston, a construction and quarry company
Arthur J. Imperatore Jr.,
executive vice president of NY Waterway, a commuter ferry service, and president and chief executive officer of Romulus Development Corp., a Weehawken developer of mixed-use communities
an economist and former head of equities for Oppenheimer Funds, Inc.
Daniel D. Saunders,
administrator with the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Historic Preservation Office
Michael E. Holenstein, a real estate appraiser
a real estate professional
Margot Walsh, executive director of the Jersey Shore Partnership, an organization advocating for coastal protection and promoting shorefront communities
John J. Reynolds,
a former NPS deputy director
Tim Hill, who, according to NPS, has 33 years experience in municipal government in a variety of positions
Gerald Glaser, an executive with the National Science Foundation, a federal agency with a $7 billion annual budget for funding basic science and engineering research and education activities
founder and director of Ocean Discoveries, a business that travels to primary and middle schools for marine science demonstrations
U.S. Army Colonel Shawn A. Welsh,
who is also a founding member of a group that sponsors World War II-era re-enactor programs at Fort Hancock
The group was selected for its members’ connections to surrounding communities as invested stakeholders, their educational and professional backgrounds and the members’ ability to collaborate and to understand NPS policy and management, according to the NPS.
The committee is expected to meet four to six times over the next couple of years; the committee process can extend for up to three years, according to John Harlan Warren, a spokesman for the park service’s northeast region.
“This is a major step forward in the preservation of Fort Hancock,” said Linda Canzanelli, superintendent of the park service’s Gateway National Recreation Area, in a released statement. “To help these lovely historic buildings survive another century, the National Park Service needs the best ideas from local, state and national organizations. This FACA group brings together the talent, experience and progressive spirit that will save Fort Hancock.”
The structures at Fort Hancock, which many see as having a historical significance for the area, are aging and deteriorating. The park service for more than a decade supported a plan that would establish a partnership with a private developer to rehabilitate the buildings in exchange for allowing the developer to lease them for a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit uses. That proposal became mired in controversy as a group, Save Sandy Hook, voiced objections to the plan, seeing it as commercialization of public parklands and likely to negatively impact on the park’s ecology.
Save Sandy Hook fought a lengthy but unsuccessful legal battle in federal court, but ultimately the park service voided its agreement with the proposed developer.
Ed Dlugosz, who had been vice president of Save Sandy Hook, questioned the makeup of the new committee. “I’m a bit concerned about what they may want to do, what they have in mind,” he said.
Dlugosz, who is on the board of directors of the environmental organization Monmouth County Friends of Clearwater, said he was struck by the lack of participation on the part of local environmental groups. “There needs to be a balance,” he said, “so the public interests are upheld.”