Friday, April 30, 2010

Update on Status of Navy-Laurelwood buyout negotiations

As NOPE supporters know, April 30, 2010, was the contractual completion date of the military-use phase of the 52-year Laurelwood housing agreement, with May 1, 2010, marking the transition to the Department of Navy's original plan to provide unimpeded civilian access to housing through 2040. However, the Navy's announcement earlier this month of a buyout of the lease totally suspended the transition to the so-called "outlease" portion of the contract and civilian housing at NWS Earle.

In reaching out to Congressman Smith's office this morning for an update on the status of negotiations between the Navy and Laurelwood Homes, LLC, we learned that, likely a procedural move, owner Teri Fischer filed a complain last week with the Navy's Contracting Officer. In short, we are told that this gives the parties 60 days to figure out parameters of the buyout...and in no way marks a reversal from the expected outcome. We speculate failure to reach a deal in that time could spark a lawsuit by Mrs. Fischer against the Department of Navy, but that is merely speculation on our part.

Rest assured, NOPE will continue to provide updates on this case and, as always, reminds supporters - negotiators for the Navy and Laurelwood as well - of our business case analysis that the homes are likely worth $17-$20 million when factoring a host of financial considerations. The sooner the better for a buyout, in our opinion, and ultimately the leveling of the Laurelwood development and restoration of the property to its initial state. In the meantime, we wish everyone a good weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Request of ALL NOPE supporters to make a few more calls

After the NOPE leadership team met Tuesday night to discuss regular business, legislative liaison Elaine Mann recommends supporters make phone calls ASAP to ensure that legislation on the Earle housing issue (and on the verge of reaching Governor Christie's desk) gets thru the Assembly and protects the state in the event that contract buyout talks between the Department of Navy and Laurelwood Homes LLC collapse.

As you may recall, owing to widespread community support, NOPE has been instrumental in getting our legislators in Trenton to recognize the significance of the Department of Navy's Laurelwood civilian housing proposal at NWS Earle and the inherent security, economic and environmental detriments to NJ. Assembly measure A2014 is sitting idle in Trenton as we speak, months after the full Senate unanimously approved the companion senate version, S762, and needs to be signed by the Governor to have lasting impact.

The Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, which approved A2014's predecessor legislation in the previous Trenton session, needs to move A2014 forward, and we ask that you call the following committee members with the simple message - "please post A2014 in committee":
  • Chair: Jack Conners, 856-461-3997 (voted "yes" last session)
  • Vice-Chair: Cleopatra G. Tucker, 973-926-4330 (abstained last session)
And after the bill comes out, NOPE supporters should contact:
  • Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, 973-395-1166 (voted yes in the full Assembly last session)
We understand that our supporters have made a lot of phone calls, some of which may appear redundant, but remind the supporters that NOPE cannot relent until, as NOPE legal counsel Jacque Hoagland quoted to the Asbury Park Press a few weeks ago, the wrecking ball knocks the last Laurelwood house down.

We thank you for continued support, and encourage you to call Mr. Conners and Ms. Tucker.

Monday, April 26, 2010

5 Business Days until Expiration of Laurelwood "In-Lease"

Of course, we're well aware that the Department of Navy has agreed in principal to buy out Laurelwood Homes, LLC, averting a significant security, financial and environmental threat to itself and Earle's neighbors, but we remain unclear whether this means an agreement has to be struck before the military-use phase, or "in-lease," of the 52-year Laurelwood contract officially expires at midnight this Saturday (May 1).

NOPE's emphasis this week will be tracking down, presumably through our elected federal officials in Washington, the state of negotations between the Navy and Laurelwood, and whether any failure to reach an accord before the end of this week signals trouble from a contractual and legal perspective. Stay tuned, but do not hesitate to reach out to your representatives with questions about this situation.