Is College in Fort Monmouth's Future?
State agency forms committee to explore the idea.
Irace said an Oceanport resident inquired about the possibility of converting the former fort property into a college campus at the most recent Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) meeting held at Oceanport's Maple Place Middle School on Jan. 18.
According to Irace, EDA CEO Caren Franzini said the state agency has formed a committee to explore the idea.
"Hopefully, knock on wood, they're going to take the model that New York City is taking for Roosevelt Island that brought in Cornell University," Irace told council. "They seem to be pretty enthused by it. Cross your fingers and hope, I think it's the best solution at Fort Monmouth for what Oceanport's needs are."
Borough Attorney John O. Bennett, III asked Irace where the college might be located, noting most colleges are tax-exempt. Irace said the EDA hadn't yet indicated a location, and acknowledged a school would not bring the town any tax revenue, but said it could provide policing and security for the property, which is currently being handled by state troopers.
Irace said nearby Monmouth University takes care of their own garbage collection and lawn maintenence, saving West Long Branch from expending tax dollars on the services. Councilwoman Ellynn Kahle added that Monmouth often makes donations to West Long Branch. Recently, the university committed to donate $250,000 to help the borough purchase a new fire truck.
"We're not getting any kind of tax money from Fort Monmouth now, so if you can offset it with something that could create jobs, that would be a good thing," Irace said, pointing to ancillary businesses like pizza places and coffee shops which could potentially spring up around a campus to provide jobs for locals.
"Instead of being a burden to us, it would actually add to the community, so I think it would be a win-win," said Kahle.