Friday, August 14, 2009

APP: Freeholders reject plan to house veterans at Earle

The Monmouth County Freeholders at yesterday's meeting rejected a special interest group's request to rent the Laurelwood housing units at Earle for "disabled and senior citizen veterans" once the Navy turns the houses over to the developer next year - good news for Neighbors Opposed to Privatization at Earle.

The namesake "Accettola Plan" put together by a Colts Neck resident supposedly with a background in public housing and endorsed by the Neptune Housing Authority (NHA), while noble, was extremely thin on details and disorganized when presented in Tinton Falls in January. NOPE's - and presumably the Freeholders' - opposition to this plan has nothing to do with slighting veterans or whomever else could end up renting the 300 homes on an active weapons base. The type of tenant is irrelevant to NOPE.

The point is that no civilian should ever gain access to the base or Laurelwood housing. To be sure, NOPE's leadership includes a prominent, high-ranking military retiree and other war veterans who view the plan as ill-hatched. Yes, we recognize the Navy's circular, semantical argument in its EIS that fencing off the houses and its own, new road would separate them from the active parts of NWS Earle, but the point remains that if any civilian housing plan comes to fruition, that the Laurelwood residents, their guests and the general public would be able to drive thru the heart of the Earle Mainside base thru 2040 - not a wise plan in post-9/11 world. The Accettola Plan and NHA fail to recognize this and continually tugs on peoples' emotions to "do what's right for veterans," without grasping the magnitude or pitfalls of the Navy's plan or how Laurelwood residents too are in harm's way.

As well, NOPE recognizes the need to find affordable housing for veterans in need and has mentioned this many times in our dealings with elected federal, state and local elected officials, which makes Fort Monmouth (set for closure in 2012 and home to a hospital and other facilities that can be used by the veterans or retrofitted for their purposes) a far better option for the Accettola Plan than Earle. And as former Freeholder and current candidate John Curley was quoted as saying in yesterday's APP, "our veterans deserve better."

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