By John Burton
FORT MONMOUTH — Those who have been displaced and homes damaged and flooded will be able to look to the former Fort Monmouth site for temporary housing.
Governor Chris Christie and federal agencies have signed off on a plan to use the former military installation and its available housing stock for those whose homes have been rendered uninhabitable because of Super Storm Sandy, according to Oceanport Mayor Michael Mahon.
Mahon said Monday afternoon he had just spoken to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno who told him that “some sort of transitional housing will be provided” at the fort.
“That decision has been made,” Mahon said. “It’ll be up and running as soon as possible,” with the governor expected to release the details shortly.
No one from the Christie’s or Guadagno’s offices were immediately available for comment Monday afternoon because of the Veterans Day observed holiday.
Fort Monmouth, an approximately 90-year-old U.S. Army installation closed and decommissioned in September, has considerable housing stock on site, built over the years to accommodate military personnel. As the military presence at the facility gave way to a largely civilian force working on research and development for the U.S. Department of Defense projects, much of the housing was put into mothballs and left unattended.
With the fort’s closing, electricity to the remaining structures was turned off, too, Mahon noted. In addition about a third of the fort sustained some storm damage, he said.
“The perception is you just have to flip on the switch,” to get the facility ready to accommodate the temporary residents, “and that’s not the case,” Mahon said.
Representatives from the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA), the state entity working on redeveloping the site, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has inspected the location to see “what can be made usable in a short period of time,” Mahon said.
“Locally,” he said, “we will support our neighbors and residents in the state of New Jersey and the County of Monmouth that have been displaced by the storm.”
There may be some damage at the facility, but Eatontown
Mayor Gerald Tarrantolo believes there should be a considerable amount of residential units that could be up and running in fairly short order. Tarrantolo said the bachelors’ officers’ quarters and those intended for visiting military “were operational two years ago.
“We could get companies to come in and get them operational probably within a month,” Tarrantolo estimated.
The 1,126-acre fort is made located in Tinton Falls, Oceanport and Eatontown.
Tarrantolo and Mahon, along with Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera serve on FMERA.