Thursday, April 15, 2010

bnet: New Jersey Towns Battle -- and Beat -- the U.S. Navy

In our daily channel checks, this story from the site "bnet" (apparently geared toward a government-contractor business audience) is worth reading, particularly for an audience that might not understand the dozens of nuances of our unique case, but a bit misconstrued.

It seems the media - collectively newspapers, radio and bloggers - are dwelling on concerns about property taxes and financial issues. However, the lynchpin of NOPE's objection to civilian housing at NWS Earle has ALWAYS been security. (Yes, our business case was on target in identifying the financial pitfalls of the Navy's plan to convert military to civilian housing, but one of many focal points of NOPE's objections.)

Clearly, the Navy's decision to buy out the Laurelwood private housing contract is an admission that building an umpeded access road through an active weapons facility is not logical from perspectives of base and national security and Earle's mission to provide ammunition to the U.S. Navy fleet.

Still, bnet author Matthew Potter did a fair job of summarizing (very difficult in our 2+ year case) the recent turn of events, though we would add that NOPE was not specifically recognized as the catalyst to the Navy suspending its Record of Decision on Laurelwood. Although Howell, Wall and Middletown are cited as participants, most of us (locally) recognize the driving forces for NOPE were Colts Neck and Tinton Falls residents comprising NOPE.

Meanwhile, NOPE's leaders appreciate the outpouring of gratitude since Friday from hundreds of members of our communities, but we want to remind supporters that our organization will not rest until the completion of both the Navy's impending buyout of Laurelwood and the physical demolition of the homes. This is merely to ensure that no wrenches are thrown in to what has obviously been a methodical and arduous, but constructive, process and one that placed a fair measure of distrust in Navy leadership in Washington, D.C. However, Friday's announcement of a good-faith resolution with Laurelwood Homes, LLC, perhaps ushers a new era where the Department will prioritize its relationship with the good neighbors of NWS Earle's host communities who have embraced the U.S. Military's presence in Monmouth County long before many of us were here or even born.

Please continue to stay tuned here for daily updates, as in the days ahead we will also more-specifically recognize the community groups and NOPE leaders who helped our group succeed.

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