Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our prayers to injured Earle Navy base employee

The Asbury Park Press reports that a male employee at Naval Weapons Station Earle lost part of his lower left leg Friday morning when struck by a locomotive backing up into a roundhouse. Our thoughts and prayers go out to this injured individual for a speedy recovery and to his family, and we remind readers of how NOPE values the safety and well being of Earle's employees, who are an essential part of our community.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Asbury Park Press take on the GAO...and more on our hugely successful postcard campaign

It is truly nice for NOPE to see a) the reference to the postcard campaign we initiated at Tuesday night's rally and b) the return of reporter Nina Rizzo to this story. Ms. Rizzo has been following the Earle case from the beginning and gives fair and balanced perspectives, which is all any reader can ask in such a multi-layered issue as proposed civilian housing at NWS Earle. We hope the APP editors will keep Ms. Rizzo on this story.

Speaking of the postcard campaign, we've already exhausted our supply of 600 sets distributed (and many subsequently collected) during the rally and are printing another 1,000 sets. For any person interested in soliciting signatures from their neighbors, friends or family, contact us at,, or call us at 732.322.0130, and we can arrange for you to get a stack once we've printed them.

For those that missed the rally but would like to participate in our campaign, and are unsure what it is about, NOPE has targeted four agencies that need to be aware of the communities' ire - the Secretary of the Navy, the EPA, NJ Homeland Security and Governor Corzine - and is asking people to sign a 5th postcard that we will physically hand over in Trenton as we lobby for passage of the Beck-O'Scanlon-Casagrande bill mandating a state study of the Laurelwood security and financial impacts before any NJ agency (namely DEP and DOT) can issue permits to the Department of Navy. The first four have preprinted address to which people can mail their cards, while we're arranging for drop-off points for the 5th card.

Please stay tuned here for more details, and safe Halloween fun to those participating with their children in what is one of the most fun days of the year!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Congressman Smith: President Signs Earle Amendment Into Law

According to this press release issued Wednesday by Congressman Chris Smith's office, President Obama signed into law Mr. Smith's legislation "to require a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of the U.S. Navy’s controversial proposal to open the Laurelwood military housing complex on Naval Weapons Station Earle, the largest munitions depot on the East Coast, to the general public."

NOPE again appreciates the years of effort Congressman Smith has put into this issue, well before our group's existence, and wholeheartedly agrees with Mr. Smith's assertion that "making a highly secure military weapons depot accessible to anyone with a month and a half’s rent is a bad idea."

In addition, we anticipate that the GAO's discovery will not only expose the Department of Navy's stubborn and flawed contention that, by contract, it must open the Laurelwood housing to civilians by September 2010, but also will shed light on a number of significant pieces of information that NAVFAC failed to discuss to the U.S. taxpayer in its "Environmental Impact Statement" (EIS) on Laurelwood - namely regarding Supplemental Lease Agreement 43.

It is our understanding that this agreement, obtained earlier this year by NOPE thru the Freedom of Information Act, and signed in August 2002 as part of Laurelwood's refinancing of the mortgage, compounds what was a bad contract from the get-go in the 1980s. And, contrary to the Department of Navy's contention in the EIS that "No Build" (i.e. do not build the Laurelwood road, do not open the houses to civilians) is not an option, No. 43 suggests the lease automatically goes to buyout and teardown phase if the DoN does not provide Laurelwood access to pave the road and upgrade the homes at the end of the "in-lease" (i.e. military's occupation of the homes), which is April 30, 2010.

Here's the kicker. By agreeing to this supplement, S.A. 43 suggests that "the Government" (as referred to in the document), less than one year after 9-11, not only signed away its contractual right to use National Emergency Termination clauses to void the lease, but also appears to obligate the U.S. taxpayer to an additional $20 million+ of rent payments to Laurelwood in the event that certain civilian occupancy levels are not met. NOW we see why the Navy was steadfast in telling us during face-to-face meetings that it would not invoke the termination clause (rather than its excuse at the time that it didn't want to be perceived as a bad business partner to federal government contractors.)

None of us in NOPE is an expert at privatized military housing contracts, but we are hopeful that the GAO report will shed light on important financial data points and security analysis that clearly was lacking in the Department of Navy's (NAVFAC) final EIS, and that the DoN will use this opportunity to finally approach Laurelwood's owner at the bargaining table on a settlement that not only restores order to NWS Earle, but is the right thing to do for surrounding communities and the folks behind Earle's lines who put their lives on the line for our country.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rally a HUGE success, but lots more to do

The Department of Navy need not look further than the success of last night's NOPE rally at Colts Neck High School to know that it should do an about-face on its egregiously flawed decision to open military housing at Weapons Station Earle to civilian renters, starting next year, through 2040.

NOPE would like to thank the 250-300 that turned out on a rainy night to participate in our rally at CNHS, plus the continued outpouring of support today from many of the attendees, who are eager to volunteer to spread our message and participate in the cause as the Navy's April 30, 2010, deadline to obligate the Laurelwood housing lease draws near.

If nothing else, the Department of Navy needs to know that NOPE is NOT going away, and our ranks will only grow!

NOPE also would like to acknowledge participation of our elected officials - from Sen. Menendez's office and Rep. Smith's and Holt's offices in Washington, all the way thru the District 12 State Senate team, Monmouth County Freeholders and leaders of Colts Neck and Tinton Falls.

And we'd also acknowledge the extensive media coverage from News 12 (our story evidently aired on the 10p and 11p newscasts, and we'll provide a link once it is available) and Millenium Radio (i.e. WOBM, 94.3 The Point, etc) and down to diverse local media.

To reiterate last night's takeaways:
  • The NOPE community is unified, committed, and growing even stronger! There is no arguing this point.
  • The Navy's assertion to the public that civilian housing at NWS Earle is a "done deal" and needs to go through (and will not compromise the base's mission or our security) is FAR from the truth. As noted last night, article No. 15 of Supplement No. 43 to the Laurelwood lease (see our July 15, 2009 blog entry pertaining to this, with the link providing the full document NOPE obtained through the Freedom of Information Act) obligates the Navy and its developer to a buyout and teardown should "the government fail to provide unimpeded access at the termination of the inlease (April 30, 2010)." Furthermore, Supplement No. 43 also foolishly signed away the Government's right to revoke the lease in the event of a national emergency, and appears to potentially obligate the Government to laddered rent payments to the developer through 2017 at a cost that we calculate at upwards of $22 million.
  • The wheels are in motion for a GAO financial and security assessment of the Laurelwood housing issue (see pgs. 898-899 of the House Conference report accompanying the FY 2010 Defense Authorization legislation) - an assessment that the Navy (via the NAVFAC branch) was required to include in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of the Laurelwood housing issue but refused to do, citing confidentiality and a "sorry, but financial projections are too difficult for us to calculate" excuse.
  • Supporters need to provide us with a list of 5-10 more names of residents, along with their email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses, so that we can extend our message and increase the pressure on the Department of Navy and the agencies that dropped the ball on this issue, namely the EPA, DHS and Governor Corzine. In addition to the hundreds of postcards you submitted last night (and that we will mail early next week, once cover letters are drawn), visitors to the rally took stacks of the pre-printed postcards home with them to share with their neighbors. In all, we expect to quickly exhaust the 600 sets of protest postcards we printed for last night's rally. Well done, folks!
  • NOPE will have a strong turnout for our efforts to lobby members of the State House in Trenton for passage of S3017/A4159, mandating a cost benefit and security analysis of the Laurelwood housing plan before state agencies can issue permits the Department of Navy needs to begin the road construction phase of Alternative 4 (the road to Laurelwood). We anticipate at least 1 busload of supporters, and are targeting 1,000 signed postcards to hand over when the committees meet to discuss the bill, expected sometime after the November elections.

Stay tuned for more in the days, weeks and months ahead, and thanks again for your support, which is essential if we are to prevail in preventing civilian housing at NWS Earle. And please contact us at or

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NOPE RALLY TONIGHT - Colts Neck High, 730 p.m.!!!

Please make every effort to attend (children are welcome).

NOPE has prepared a very informative presentation to bring all Monmouth County residents and the general public up to speed on the faulty civilian housing plan at Weapons Station Earle and will include:

  • What the Department of Navy left out of its mandated Environmental Impact Study...and what they do not want to public (nor federal agencies such as the EPA) to know
  • Recent terror plots at U.S. military bases and why Earle could be targeted
  • Colts Neck Township's hiring of Rudy Guiliani's security consulting firm to assist in a security evaluation
  • What our lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are doing through the Fiscal 2010 Defense Authorization Act
  • The bipartisan support of our N.J. legislators
  • Time is running out...only 185 days until the Navy turns the housing over to a private developer and ultimately grants unimpeded access to the Laurelwood homes for the next 30 years
  • And much, much more...

To be considerate of your time, our committee has worked diligently to keep the rally to 1 hour. Please attend and SHOW OUR STRENGTH IN NUMBERS!

Thank you for your continued support!

Monday, October 26, 2009

APP Preview of Oct. 27 NOPE Rally

The preview coverage by the Asbury Park Press of tomorrow night's NOPE RALLY (at Colts Neck High School, starting at 7:30 p.m.) is welcome, though somewhat inaccurate.

Short shrift is given to the fact that NOPE's boundaries stretch well beyond "a group of township residents." NOPE comprises resident supporters well beyond Colts Neck's borders, namely Tinton Falls, but other surrounding towns as well (Freehold, Ocean, Howell, Marlboro) that oppose the Navy's plans to house civilians at Weapons Station Earle the next 30 years.

The notion, too, that Senators Menendez and Lautenberg, plus Representatives Smith (District 4) and Holt (District 12), pushed extremely hard for our cause vis-a-vis an defense spending bill amendment in D.C. to mandate a study of the financial and security ramifications of the Navy's plan suggests bipartisan federal support for NOPE's cause in Washington. In Trenton, we have Senator Beck and NJ's 12th District team pushing a companion bill that would prevent the Navy from acting on its wishes until the state conducts its own financial and security threat assessment. Mr. Jordan's APP piece, while appreciated, fails to mention that and falls short in recognizing that our case goes beyond a Colts Neck lawsuit to which NOPE is not a party.

Nonetheless, as Diana Piotrowski, NOPE's Communications Director was quoted as saying, tomorrow night's rally will remind the Department of Navy in Washington that New Jersey's lawmakers and taxpayers are steadfast in opposition to an ill-conceived plan that will grossly endanger the livelihoods of NWS Earle's neighbors. The last thing the Department of Navy wants is continued publicity of the Laurelwood housing issue, and that is what NOPE will continue to provide. The more light we shed on this lunacy, the better our chance to prevail.

Please come out and see for yourself why, tomorrow night (Tuesday, Oct. 27) at 7:30 p.m. at Colts Neck High School. It is your obligation to remain informed and to protect your community.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Senate approves defense spending bill

NOPE is hopeful that the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Authorization bill, which passed the House earlier this month and the Senate on Friday (by a 68-29 margin), includes provisions mandating a GAO financial and security assessment of the civilian housing plan at NWS Earle. This would mark a major step in our battle to prevent a bad idea presented by the Department of Navy.

Make sure to attend Tuesday night's rally, where we'll update the community on our progress, what we need to accomplish, and where representatives from Senator Menendez's, Representative Holt's and Smith's and State Senator Beck's offices will address the matter.

The NOPE rally kicks off at 730p at Colts Neck High School. Do not miss this event!