Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day!

Best wishes and safe passage to everyone on this July 4 holiday weekend!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Menendez-Lautenberg finally challenge the Navy on Laurelwood

July 1, 2009 was a historic day for NOPE. Our organization has hawkishly pressed U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg to express their opinions on the Laurelwood housing issue, whether favorable or unfavorable to NOPE. Or course we hoped they'd side with our perspective that no civilian should ever live on NWS Earle, but were simply looking for some public commentary on the issue, as the people of New Jersey should know where our congressmen stand on this particular issue.

The letter Messrs. Menendez and Lautenberg to Secretary of the Navy (The Honorable Raymond Mabus), as read aloud by Menendez aide Kellie Drakeford at the Wednesday press conference at Earle and requesting that the Navy conduct a full cost benefit analysis, cemented their objections to both a haphazard EIS and concern about the safety of our communities. The credit here goes largely to Kellie Drakeford and Keith Roachford of Mr. Menendez's office, who reached out to us on many occassions over the past few months and facilitated a rational and amicable solution to our request.

The letter, while falling short of explicit reference to our security concerns, clearly touches on one issue that NOPE has long argued - that the Navy should exercise its right to simply terminate the Laurelwood contract under the National Emergency Termination clause on page 2 of the lease - while also addressing NOPE's discovery of a supplemental lease agreement ("SA-43") that could obligate the Navy to $20 million of additional rent payments through 2017 (contrary to its view that rent payments will cease on Sept. 30, 2010), in the event that Laurelwood has trouble renting the 300 housing units.

NOPE will continue to press the Senators on this until full resolution of the Laurelwood issue.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

APP: Legislators - Study impact of civilian housing at Earle

Here's the APP's take on yesterday's press conference and a copy of the actual legislation put forth by Senator Beck, Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlan and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande. The key takeaways, in our view:

a) The Navy commander who penned the Record of Decision (ROD) apparently
does not understand the nation's own laws about Environmental Impact Statements, which do require financial impact analysis and a threat assessment as part of the EIS process - Mr. Snow's argument to the contrary is false, and the Navy entirely wrote off the No Action Alternative (i.e. No Build Option) without analysis

b) The symbolism of two U.S. Senators (i.e. Menendez and Lautenberg) joining not only the District 4 and 12 U.S. Representatives Smith and Holt, but also the District 12 State leaders and the leaders of Colts Neck and Tinton Falls, further validates NOPE's fight that this issue is non-partisan. Many naysayers figured the educational standoff between CN and TF or party politics would get in the way of reasonable opposition to Laurelwood housing, but it hasn't. Giving any person unimpeded access to an active weapons base will compromise our safety and the Navy's own mission to provide ammunition to the fleet as it is engaged in an ongoing war against terrorists.

c) Our efforts are bearing fruit, but we cannot rest on our laurels. NOPE will continue to challenge the decision, press our elected officials and inform the public. Stay tuned here and to your email for updates on community gatherings and outreach that we are planning for July through October. Grassroots activism works, and we need to continue the fight.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Just back from the District 12 Press Conference outside Earle

The press conference conducted outside Earle by the District 12 team of Beck-Casagrande-O'Scanlan went off very well this afternoon from NOPE's perspective, as the team unveiled a bill that would require New Jersey's Treasurer to issue a cost benefit analysis and security report on proposed conversion of military housing to civilian housing at Earle Naval Weapons Station, and places a moratorium on issuance of certain State permits and plan approvals. Please follow this link for more details.

Just as significantly, Kellie Drakeford from Senator Robert Menendez's office read a letter co-signed by Mr. Menendez and Senator Frank Lautenberg that will hit the Secretary of the Navy's desk, expressing their concern about the Navy's plans for Laurelwood housing. We'll post a copy of that letter once NOPE obtains it, and are glad after a year's worth of effort to get an announcement from our U.S. Senators.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

To anyone planning to attend the Beck press conference outside Earle on Wednesday...

If you plan to attend the District 12 team's press conference this afternoon at 1230p, please park on the side of Rt. 34 or at the Colts Neck public works; we learned this morning the parking logistics posted here yesterday were intended for the media only, and apologize for any miscommunication. Again, the District 12 legislative team is expected to unveil a bill regarding the Navy's plans for Laurelwood housing. A few of NOPE's leaders expect to be on hand.

DO NOT call the Navy looking for parking.

Colts Neck sues to stop Earle Housing Plan: APP

Here's the story in today's Asbury Park Press, confirming what we mostly knew already.

Somewhat sarcastically, the funny part about the claims referenced in the APP story is that a lot of what the lawsuit contends (i.e., the Navy's EIS failed to fully examine the "No Action Alternative," Navy's failure to justify how the lease promotes the national defense, references to termination) stems from NOPE's own handiwork, largely the efforts of our legal liaisons Joe Powell and Jacque Hoagland, and our business case analyst Fulton Wilcox.

Kudos to those three and the other VOLUNTEERS heavily involved in leading NOPE.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend Recap

A few items that appeared in Friday's Asbury Park Press, in particular an editorial (listed first below) in favor of NOPE's position on the Earle housing issue and Cong. Smith's battle:

The latter was submitted by Mr. James Manning of Neptune, who is affiliated as well with Neptune Housing Authority and the "Accettola Plan" to convert the Laurelwood homes into residences for veterans in need. Again, no one will quibble with the notion of veterans housing, but NOPE opposes putting anyone into homes on an active weapons base and has yet to see a copy of the Accettola Plan, which when presented in person in January was vague (i.e., as to what constitutes a "veteran" and who would run/oversee the program).

NOPE will post a copy of the "plan" once we have one, but again, there's a big distinction between articulating an idea (i.e., "hey, this is something we need to do") and presenting a true plan (i.e., "here are the parameters of what we intend to do and how we'll do it.").