By John Burton
SANDY HOOK – The National Park Service is asking the public to offer its input about what should happen at Sandy Hook and other Gateway National Recreation Areas during the next two decades.
An open house has been scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, at Fort Hancock, the former U.S. Army facility.
The purpose of the event is “to get community and public feedback about what should be done for the next 20 years,” as the park service drafts its general management plan, park service spokesman John Harlan Warren said.
The park service is developing plans for its Gateway National areas, including those pertaining to recreation, preservation and one that would look at “the coastal nature of the park,” Warren said. They are also looking at making no changes at all.
“So, each of these (ideas) would steer our money, our planning, our resources, in some different direction over the next 20 years,” he said.
The public can offer its take on the plans. “We think the people who use Sandy Hook or use Gateway Area are the best experts to help determine the future of the park,” he said.
The National Park Service is establishing a Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee for Sandy Hook, under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The group will take a long-term look at the future of the historic former military installation, located on the northern tip of Sandy Hook, Warren said.
The last large-scale proposal for the fort was for the park service to form a partnership with a private developer to renovate and lease about 36 of the approximate 100 aging structures on the site for a variety of not-for-profit and for-profit uses. That plan, however, became mired in controversy and legal battles and NPS officials eventually terminated the relationship with the developer.
Along with Sandy Hook, the park service will hold open houses at Gateway locations at Great Kills Park, Staten Island, N.Y., and Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The U.S. Congress established the Gateway National Recreation Area in 1972 with more than 26,000 acres in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, N.Y., and at Sandy Hook, for recreational opportunities for a densely populated urban area.