Saturday, June 27, 2009

Senator Beck plans press conference and rally across from NWS Earle main gate (Rt. 34), July 1, 1230p

NOPE received a press release last night from Layli Whyte, the Communications Director for New Jersey's 12th Legislative District team:


"Dear Friend:

The 12th District Legislators will host a press conference and rally across the street from the main gate at Naval Weapon Station Earle on Wednesday, July 1st at 12:30 p.m.

Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande will be unveiling a piece of legislation that would require a cost benefit analysis, a security analysis and a school impact study to be conducted by the State before any permits by State agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Protection or the Department of Transportation, could even be processed.

We encourage anyone who believes that the impact on the safety, security and schools of the towns surrounding Earle will be negatively impacted by the privatization of 300 housing units within the property of the base to come to the rally and voice their opposition to the plan.


Jennifer Beck Declan O’Scanlon Caroline Casagrande
Senator, District 12 Assemblyman, District 12 Assemblywoman, District 12"

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fair Haven mayor calls out Rush Holt

Mike Halfacre's letter to the editor in the June 25 Asbury Park Press offers anecdotal perspective on the difficulties encountered by a nonpartisan grassroots organization such as NOPE in engaging leaders of our state on this issue, and why we need people such as you to call your elected STATE AND FEDERAL officials to press them on where they stand on Laurelwood. To be sure, the extensive communication (nearly a year's worth) between NOPE legislative liaison Elaine Mann and yours truly with Robert Menendez's office has yielded zilch in terms of public response from the Senator's office, and we are left to wonder whether the phones or email in Frank Lautenberg's office even work or if he's even on the job. That is not a partisan jab; just a simple fact.

Tinton Falls residents can take solace in District 12 Representative Rush Holt's sharing of NOPE's view of the financial perspectives of the Laurelwood housing case, but challenge the Congressman on his view that civilian housing at Earle would not compromise area security. To be sure, it seemed to us that only after showing up en masse to Mr. Holt's open house meeting in late December 2008 at Ranney Prep did he come around in any sort of fashion for Tinton Falls residents, many of which have been particularly critical of his seemingly passive posture (Mr. Holt's aides suggest he will not "grandstand" on issues...something they contend Mr. Smith does too often) as well in handling of the Ft. Monmouth closure. (Interestingly, Smith is the one whose name is on the bill to prevent the Ft. Monmouth closure - Mr. Holt later "signed on".)

Ouside viewers, and often NOPE's critics, look at Mainside Earle as largely a Colts Neck theme, but satellite images and the Navy's EIS on whether to open the homes to civilians clearly shows a significant number of strategic weapons bunkers on Tinton Falls land, so anyone who lives a) near the southern border along Shafto Road, b) along Wayside Rd. and Hockhocksen in the North End of town, or c) those living at the extreme north of town, along Normandy Road, lives near Earle's two-mile "explosive arcs" (i.e. in harms way when things go "boom.")

Unfortunately it took Rep. Holt a long time to come around to even admitting the financial pitfalls of the Laurelwood housing issue, but his letter to the Navy (co-signed by Washington Congressman Norm Dicks) suggests a more-active pursuit of Tinton Falls' interests, though not as deeply as those of Chris Smith, whom Mike Halfacre correctly notes has been a far bigger advocate on issues crucial to District 12 (i.e., Tinton Falls) than its own elected "representative" in Washington.

Sorry, Mr. Holt.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Two items in the Asbury Park Press

The APP published a brief 3-paragraph write-up, summarizing what was essentially posted here yesterday about the possible security and financial audit by the feds into the Laurelwood housing issue. Otherwise, a Long Branch resident submitted a letter to the editor, published on Tuesday, offering a preposterous (based on erroneous observations) notion that Colts Neck and Tinton Falls should float bonds to buy out the Laurelwood contract.

It is hard to fault people for coming up with new ideas on how to handle this debacle (i.e. putting veterans in the houses), but on the other hand it is insulting when people do not understand the underlying issue or spend the time to read the (mostly incomplete and sometimes erroneous) documents put forth by the U.S. Navy and research the issue - that the Laurelwood housing debacle was thrust upon the local towns (and the state) as a result of an ill-conceived privatized military housing business model that falls short on so many fronts and no longer functions in a post-9/11 world.

NOPE is not picking a fight with nor disrespecting the efforts of our respected military, particularly at Earle, where its servicemembers and participants are ingrained in the local community. Our District 12 politicians are not "unfairly critical of the Navy" (to quote the letter to the editor), which is playing a game of chicken with the developer (Laurelwood Homes, LLC) - much to the chagrin of citizens concerned about this issue - in order to either a) bring down the developer's buyout price, or b) attempt to bankrupt the developer (who must fund the road construction and home renovation costs). I mean the U.S. Navy cannot be that oblivious that it wants to distract the true mission of the base or increase threats against a vital base...

Banging the drum again, the bottom line is that, contrary to the letter author's point that there hasn't been a security breach at Earle since 1943, that a) there was a cyber-breach that compromised Earle's computer network for about a month near 9/11; b) the base in 2005-06 reportedly failed readiness drills with flying colors; and c) in late-2008 the Inspector General found Earle's oversight of contract security guards substandard.

Just because something has not yet happened does not mean it will not happen. Remember, two commercial airliners were flown into the World Trade Center, and Fort Dix was this close to a domestic terror attack, largely a result of freeflowing civilian access to that New Jersey base. Why invite the threat to a secure, vital munitions depot at Earle?

It is time for the Navy to step up and do the right thing - void or buy out the contract. It is not the towns', nor the state's, responsibility to pay for the federal government's obvious missteps.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

House Rules Committee Accepts Smith's Defense Act Amendment to Mandate Earle Cost, Security Analysis by GAO

Great news out of Congressman (District 4) Chris Smith's office in Washington this morning!

The House Rules Committee last night accepted Mr. Smith's amendment to H.R. 2647 (the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010), requiring the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO, investigative arm of Congress) to report to Congress on a cost analysis and audit of the Navy's security measures in advance of the proposed occupancy by the general public of units of the Laurelwood Housing complex at NWS Earle. (Here is the amendment.)

This approval validates what NOPE argued all along - that NAVFAC's Environmental Impact Statement, on which the decision was based to provide the access route to Laurelwood, was half-baked and poorly drawn and failed to comply with federal mandates for financial and security threat assessments as part of an appropriate EIS.

The Navy made a bad decision based on a non-compliant document, and we suspect the GAO will validate our view that the Navy's decision should be set aside. We will continue to press this issue and provide updates here, so stay tuned. And we again thank Mr. Smith for his continued energy and support in fighting the Laurelwood housing plan.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


NOPE leadership attended the Flag Day celebration at Trump National Golf Club on Saturday, June 13 and appreciated the invitation, as we have made every effort to engage the Trump Organization in publicly supporting our efforts to prevent civilian housing at Weapons Station Earle.

Though a top-notch affair for the attendees that were honored (namely a few military officials), candidly, our visit proved fruitless from an "influential" perspective, as we had hoped to catch the ears of politicians or military decision-makers (i.e. Earle Capt. Maynard, Howard Snow, BJ Penn) about our plight.

Considering Mr. Trump's generosity and recognition of our nation's military (which we all share), we get the sense his organization will not come out publicly against the Navy's plans for Laurelwood, though NOPE will continue to make every effort to prevent civilians from ever living at Earle, whether or not famous affiliates/residents of Colts Neck (i.e. Mr. Trump, Bruce Springsteen, etc.) voice opposition to the Navy's plans or not.


P.S. Pictured above are Jacque Hoagland (legal), Elaine Mann (legislative liaison), Bill Holobowski (Chairman), Fulton (business case analyst) and Sue Wilcox, Diana Piotrowski (communications director) and Ernie Janssen (secretary). Col. Jim Sfayer (not pictured), NOPE's security expert, also was in attendance representing the Marines.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Calling all NOPE supporters!

If anyone has contact(s) with retired N.J. Congressman Jim Saxton, please let us know ASAP.

According to this bio on the "Wisconsin in Washington" website (please scroll down the page), Howard Snow, whose name is on the Navy Record of Decision for going thru with the Laurelwood access project, "served as military legislative assistance to Congressman Jim Saxton (N.J.) and oversaw all veteran affairs and military issues including military construction projects."

Perhaps we can get a meeting with Mr. Saxton to convey the need of the Navy to reverse an ill-advised decision to open NWS Earle to civilian housing.