By Jonathan Weber
By the latest count, according to officials of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA), over 150 businesses and organizations have expressed interest in buying or leasing space at the now closed Fort Monmouth.
While the list is encouraging, the organization is not yet ready to start accepting applications, lease or sell properties. The reason: the United States Army still hasn’t gotten around to releasing the land to a yet to be announced Master Realtor agency which will handle the dispensing of lands.
The fort officially closed on September 15 and the release is said to be only days away.
FMERA is moving ahead however on a request from the Government Services Administration for a new home for an unnamed government agency. The Fort Monmouth bid, which is offering the GSA what is known as Building 2525, faces stiff competition from at least six other sites around the country. Possibly a couple of hundred new jobs could be created if the bid is successful. The bids have to be in to the GSA by November 23.
The redevelopment agency decided this month to give special consideration to public institutions who want to set up shop in the former military base. Monmouth University President Paul Gaffney II asked that the special consideration be expanded to include non-profits like the West Long Branch college. FMERA Chairman James Gorman suggested the measure might be taken up at the next FMERA meeting in December.
Monmouth County Freeholder Director Lillian Burry is leading an effort to get a facility at Fort Monmouth for homeless veterans. Estimates are that at any given time, there are between 200,000 and 400,000 homeless vets in the country. One in five homeless people in the United States is a veteran. The non-profit organization Soldier On wants to house 175 veterans in apartments where they obtain food and medical attention while at the same time building some equity in units they can afford. Soldier On works with the Department of Veterans Affairs and presently has four housing projects in Massachusetts.
Still to be resolved at Fort Monmouth are environmental issues. and the Army has been working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to plan for remediation of the areas where toxins exist.