Tuesday, February 9, 2010

80 days and counting...(and two quick briefs)

The expiration of the Department of Navy's in-lease on Laurelwood housing and proposed conversion to civilian housing for the next 30 years is only 80 days away. NOPE continues to monitor any permit applications from the DoN and its developer, Laurelwood Homes, LLC, but has no new information beyond the Dec. 23 letter we blogged about January 23 and remains confident that the DoN-Laurelwood will relent to some kind of buyout compromise.

Meanwhile, we expect Tinton Falls Borough Council to vote on a resolution tonight in support of S762-A2014, the state's proposed cost-benefits study into the Laurelwood civilian housing plan at NWS Earle and its impact to NJ taxpayers. NOPE is optimistic about passage of the resolution, which is nothing more than an endorsement of Senator Beck's proposal in the Statehouse to study the merits of the DoN plan. As we have long railed, the DoN purposely omitted financial data and security cost ramifications of the plan from the Laurelwood EIS, and NJ taxpayers deserve to know how big an unfunded mandate they face as a result of the DoN's insistence on pursuing an extremely hazardous plan.

Finally, an interesting anecdote from California...where the Los Angeles times reports that the Navy has put an end to a free ferry service for the 130 or so sailors and civilian contractors who commute daily from mainland San Diego to North Island Naval Air Station. (Cali subsidizing the ~$150k annual cost as a means to ease road congestion around the Coronado base, which reportedly hosts about 35,000 employees.)

From our perspective, it is just interesting - bordering on laughable - that in the wake of the Fort Hood massacre that the DoN sees a such huge threat from a commuter ferry and cancelled a service used largely by its own employees, citing security concerns, but has no problems creating unimpeded access to NWS Earle, an 11,000-acre base that houses 300 bunkers of high-powered U.S. weapons stockpiles. On the one hand the DoN is making it harder on its own to get onto a Navy base (North Island), whereas here at Earle, the DoN is opening its arms so wide to anyone that chooses to traverse its property and visit Laurelwood as often as possible.

Anyone else out there following this logic?! We welcome your comments here.

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