Friday, April 23, 2010

NOPE has MANY within our communities to thank...

Clearly thousands of people in our communities and dozens of organizations were receptive to NOPE's message and instrumental in our successful battle against proposed civilian housing at NWS Earle, whether through event hosting, participation in our briefings and rallies, or handing out petitions and organizing, just to name a few of the tasks in our arduous effort.

The lynchpin of our published campaign was Charles Basile and his family's Wall Street Group. Charles' company not only fulfilled every printing need, but he served as a key player on NOPE's leadership team, and if memory serves, his daughter Ashley designed the NOPE logo in early 2008. Special kudos to the Basiles for stepping up for their community and personifying selflessness and grassroots participation. 

From a facilities standpoint, NOPE wishes to thank Colts Neck library, Colts Neck high school superintendant Ross Kasun, former Tinton Falls business administrator Bryan Dempsey and technology coordinator John Legere, Seabrook Village's Angie Crippen and Gary Engelstad, and Ed Russo at Trump National for liaising NOPE's briefings and rallies at their facilities. Along the same lines, we cannot thank the elected leaders of the two towns for supporting our mission through resolutions, plus emergency responders (i.e. police, fire and first aid), for participation in our events. And Monmouth Regional School district was a huge asset in NOPE's presence at a Navy presentation in late-2008.

Tinton Falls superintendant John Russo, business administrator Tamar Sydney-Gens and BOE president Peter Karavites were tremendous in their support of our mission to convey the educational detriments within NOPE's objections to civilian housing, from taking part in our Navy meetings in Washington, D.C. to letting us send rally flyers home to Tinton Falls families through school "kiddie mail." The parent-teacher groups in Colts Neck and Tinton Falls also deserve a great deal of credit for their outpourings of support.

Dozens of local proprietors involved in business associations of Colts Neck and Tinton Falls let us to distribute NOPE literature and advertise our events, plus civic organizations like area Scouts and our own neighborhood friends helped us extend the message by spending hours - often in bad weather - handing out leaflets outside Dunkin Donuts and even the Tinton Falls borough landfill. And groups like the Colts Neck Sports Foundation, Old Towne Day, Tinton Falls Day, and women's clubs of both towns came up huge, especially since we worked on a shoestring budget emphasizing volunteerism!

Who can forget the NOPE t-shirts provided by Roberta and Matthew Berdel and Family Tee's, the nonprofit organization of Staten Island that employees people with special needs! Plus, all of the fair and balanced media coverage that we received from outlets such as Channels 8, 9, 12 and NJN, radio stations The Breeze and WOBM, and print-media such as the Asbury Park Press, Greater Media and Nassau Journals (i.e. Colts Neck Journal).

Recognizing there are dozens more that we could name, we apologize in advance for missing anyone in the aforementioned list, but rest assured that your value to NOPE's success was invaluable!

Everyone enjoy the weekend, and please stay tuned here for updates as we await word on the Laurelwood buyout and subsequent contractual teardown of the homes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

TF School Board Prez Hails Navy Decision: Red Bank Hub

As a neutral grassroots organization, NOPE broadly argued that the influx of hundreds of new prospective (and unexpected) civilian tenants to NWS Earle's Laurelwood housing for the next 30 years obviously would have stressed area school systems, but perhaps none more than in Tinton Falls.  In the end, we proved an essential liaison in what otherwise would have been an ugly, protracted and unproductive battle thrust upon otherwise cordial neighbors by Department of Navy leadership at the Pentagon.

Colts Neck officials, citing an arcane state law now on hold with an administrative law judge as a result of the Navy's decision to buy out Laurelwood, charged Tinton Falls as the one responsible for educating civilian Laurelwood residents, ratcheting up the tension in a 20-year battle between the towns over educational obligations and prompting Tinton Falls to pursue legal action to overturn the aformentioned state law that allowed the borough to accept K-thru-8th grade Navy dependents (5,000 and counting) from NWS Earle for the past two decades. (This law was apparently required in order to let Navy dependents stationed at Earle to leave their Colts Neck base to attend school outside the host township, after Colts Neck leaders in the late-1980s rejected educating military dependents in their district.)

Without rehashing the details of this long-running fued, we share this article from the Red Bank Hub, which highlight's TF BOE president Peter Karavites' satifaction with the Navy's decision to buy out Laurelwood, but balanced against the lack of trust in the Department of Navy stemming from its handling of the privatization of military housing at NWS Earle and how the BOE wants the ALJ to rule on the state law.

NOPE will keep supporters abreast of this case, but otherwise is extremely satisfied to have helped bridge the gap between Colts Neck and Tinton Falls and convince area officials that all parties needed to organize to fight what obviously was a recipe for disaster mandated by the Department of Navy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

News Transcript on Navy dropping civilian housing plan

Greater Media reporter Rebecca Morton did a nice job summarizing the recent announcement that the Navy will not go through with the Laurelwood civilian housing plan at NWS Earle. Here is her recap. Again, we will contine to track all development, including the impending buyout.

In the meantime, we are still compiling a "thank you" list to the many groups and individuals within our communities that helped NOPE along the way. Please stay tuned as we target a full list by Friday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Awaiting word on the buyout parameters

Among the loose ends that NOPE anticipates having to tie up as we approach month's end are seeing through the buyout negotiations of the Laurelwood contract and expedient demolition of the Laurelwood military housing complex.

Clearly, the public (i.e. NOPE) will not be a party to private talks between the Department of Navy and Laurelwood Homes, LLC, owner of the 300 townhomes on NWS Earle in question, but we will beat the proverbial dead horse that the homes are worth $17-$20 million, at most. (This range factors a host of costs to Laurelwood against the equivalent annual rents of $3.5-$4 million that Laurelwood received from the Navy for the past 20 years).

NOPE will remain in contact with Congressman Smith and Senator Menendez in tracking the progress of the negotiations and anticipates host a press conference once an agreement is met.

In the meantime, Navy officials contacted us Friday regarding another NOPE Freedom of Information request pertaining to the Laurelwood refinancing agreement of 2002, in addition to the Navy's compliance with oversight recommendations put forth by the Inspector General in 2009, pertaining to the Myers outsource security firm that supplements Earle's base-force protection. These are issues that remain relevant to NOPE's primary concern that unimpeded civilian access and housing at NWS Earle are an obvious security concern.