Thursday, May 28, 2009

NOPE's Official Response to the Navy's "Record of Decision"

The link goes to the Asbury Park Press story from May 22, where NOPE's response is summarized on p. 3. However, here is the press release that we issued within hours of learning of the U.S. Navy's "Record of Decision":



Colts Neck, New Jersey – May, 2009
The U.S. Navy’s formal decision to press ahead with an ill-advised plan to open Naval Weapons Station Earle’s Laurelwood housing to civilian tenants by 2010 is a slap in the face to the more-than-1, 000 area citizens who weighed in on the government’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) but were blatantly ignored.

Neighbors Opposed to Privatization at Earle (NOPE) learned Friday that Navy leadership, displaying poor judgment in an age of broader terrorism, verified “Alternative Alignment 4” (as spelled out in the Final EIS issued April 11, 2009) as the location of an unimpeded civilian access route through the heart of one of the U.S. Military’s most significant weapons and ammunitions storage facilities.

The irrational decision to put a housing contract above all else (i.e. national security, financial devastation to area towns and the Navy itself) and ignore the options of voiding or buying out the Laurelwood lease calls into question the motivation of Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Howard E. Snow’s decision to accept the EIS, at a time where NOPE has uncovered significant flaws, namely failure to:

- Take the public’s concerns seriously;
- Acknowledge the “No Build Option” as viable;
- Comply with regulatory provisions requiring financial analysis as part of the EIS;
- Engage the developer in buyout negotiations, a full seven years after the developer approached the Navy about a buyout ($29 million in 2002);
- Admit that putting more than 1,000 civilians on a weapons base will distract base security from its intended mission of providing ammunition to the fleet;
- Consider that Tinton Falls taxpayers have subsidized the cost to educate nearly 5,000 military dependants since the late 1980s and (as the Navy's ROD suggests) will be burdened by an un-funded mandate of more than $300 million to school civilian children;
- Protect the men and women stationed at NWS Earle from the threat of domestic terrorism against the base;

Furthermore, NOPE calls into question the continued laissez faire attitude of New Jersey’s U.S. Senators – Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg – and Governor Jon Corzine toward this issue and encourages them to articulate a response to the Navy’s decision to turn NWS Earle into an open target for domestic terrorism.

NOPE will continue to fight the Laurelwood housing issue and steadfastly argues that the Navy should act responsibly and in the public’s interest. NOPE also acknowledges the continued efforts and support of Congressman Chris Smith, U.S. Representatives Rush Holt and Norm Dicks (D-WA), 12th-District Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, and various other members of local government.

NOPE encourages its supporters to press all elected federal officials to support NOPE’s bid to prevent this inevitable security, financial and environmental RECIPE FOR DISASTER from ever occurring at NWS Earle.

NOPE steadfastly argues that the U.S. Navy should immediately withdraw not only the EIS, but also the “Record of Decision” itself.

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