By Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
Hello Monmouth County! What an incredible few weeks it has been here throughout our beautiful county. The weather has been near perfect, providing great opportunities to visit all the wonderful places and activities we have to offer.
I have some very exciting news to share about the Former Fort Monmouth property. The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders provided final approval last week to guarantee $35 million in notes and bonds through the Monmouth County Improvement Authority (MCIA). The funding will be used to revitalize the property which has been closed since 2011 and the potential impact of this redevelopment on our residents is enormous. It was the right thing to do for the region.
The Fort Monmouth property encompasses 1,126 acres across the boroughs of Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls. This authorization will allow the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) to purchase 560 acres of property, located in Eatontown and Oceanport, from the United States Army as part of its Phase II redevelopment plan. The Phase II project has an estimated market value of more than $90 million.
The closure of Fort Monmouth had a deep impact on employment in Monmouth County and New Jersey, resulting in the loss of nearly 5,000 jobs and 15,000 ancillary jobs. The Fort Monmouth Revitalization Authority is doing the work necessary to deliver new jobs on the property. People are already being employed at new facilities and business. Others will be hired to either build new structures or rehabilitate existing buildings. In both cases, immediate and long-term employment opportunities will be available.
CommVault’s new world headquarters, located on the Tinton Falls section of the former fort, currently employs 900 individuals with plans to employ 1,600 more. Trinity Hall, a private, all-girls college preparatory high school is scheduled to open on the Tinton Falls section, too. In addition, Monmouth County operates several facilities on the base.
FMERA’s goal is to develop 1,585 housing units; 300,000 square-feet of non-profit, civic and government and educational space; 500,000 square-feet for retail; and 2 million square-feet dedicated to offices, research and other commercial uses. I would like to take a moment to personally commend Freeholder Lillian Bury for her work on the FMERA board, as the county liaison. Freeholder Burry has worked tirelessly to get this project off the ground, providing guidance and insight to bring this valuable property into the future.
In addition to the exciting things happening at Ft. Monmouth, I believe the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders needs to take a bigger role in assisting with the future growth of Monmouth Racetrack. A few weeks ago I attended a private event at the racetrack and attendance was very low and I think it is a direct of the result of how the state has impacted betting and gambling. I have never seen the racetrack so empty on a Sunday in the summer, it was deserted, but as a business you still must open the doors and there is a cost to that. I think that the county has to step in and help, as this is unsustainable for the racetrack in the long run.
I have asked my fellow Freeholders to support a letter to the state requesting they intervene to ensure the future of Monmouth Park, one of our biggest tourist attractions. We plan to ask them to support legalized sports betting and casino gaming at our racetrack in Oceanport. There is a referendum slated for the ballot in November that says you can’t have casino gambling less than 72 miles from Atlantic City, the way this is currently written eliminates Monmouth Park as potential location to expand to casino gaming. We believe the park has the infrastructure, space to expand an, in addition, is already a train stop on NJ Transit allowing mass transit to bring additional people into the region – it’s a win-win as far as I am concerned.
We hope you will support our efforts to continue to make Monmouth County a great place to work and live. Take some time to visit Monmouth Racetrack and the many other great attractions we have right here, in our backyards!
Thank you, as always, for your support!
Freeholder Director Tom Arnone can be reached at [email protected]