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Eatontown Mayor, Redevelopers and Army in Talks Over Howard Commons

Redevelopers may try to push for an early demolition of the derelict housing to address Eatontown's safety concerns.

Eatontown's mayor and members of the fort redevelopment authority will have a conference call with Army officials on Tuesday in an attempt to speed up demolition of what they say is the blighted Howard Commons section of Fort Monmouth.

The move follows a discussion at this week's meeting of the (FMERA), of which Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo is a member. Tarantolo told the board that he was very concerned about the vacant neighborhood which is slated for demolition.

"I'm really concerned," he told the board. "I understand that things take time but I think this is an area where we should devote some special effort ... It's desitined to be torn down. Let's do it now!"

of the still Army-owned property, has had plans all along to ask the Army to demolish the buildings, which do not meet municipal safety codes.

In an e-mail to Patch on Thursday, FMERA Executive Director Bruce Steadman explained further: "Our initial discussion with Army on this subject related to the demolition of the housing to be done BEFORE an RFP (request for proposal) for the redevelopment of the property, with the idea that if the demolition occurred BEFORE the RFP that the property would have a higher value in a sale."

The neighborhood, left vacant by the exiting Fort Monmouth families, recently came under the mayor's scrutiny when he heard from a parent who said he alongside the abandoned and overgrown buildings.

Upon looking into the matter, the mayor discovered that there were 42 children in the neighboring apartment complexes who were in the same situation, and whose parents felt forced to ferry their children back and forth to school out of concern for their safety. Tarantolo tried unsuccessfully to get the Department of Defense (DOD) to pay for busing of these school children. 

Tarantolo often cites his take on who pays for situations like this, by saying about the DOD, "I didn't close Fort Monmouth. You did. You caused this problem. You should pay for it."

When board members met on Wednesday they voiced support for the mayor's concern and tossed around the idea of sending a resolution to Washington making their demand for immediate demolition.

That idea was tabled and after an executive session the board moved to schedule the conference call with Army officials next week.

Steadman, who suggested the idea, told Tarantolo at Wednesday's meeting, "If they hear from the mayor directly, it will have more meaning."

Bob English September 23, 2011 at 11:17 AM
This is the Armys'/DOD's responsibility and since these have to be torn down anyway, they should do it now to eliminate the eyesore they left behind and because of the safety concerns.
Sal September 23, 2011 at 11:59 AM
Grow up and face reality__the military is not going to pay for anything. They have their own budget problems due to cuts going into effect. They closed the base to consolidate and try to lower their costs___NOT to increase their costs by paying more.
Bob English September 23, 2011 at 12:06 PM
Since the costs of moving to Aberdeen are more than $2 billion more than the false numbers that the Army/DOD gave to BRAC, I doubt their savings plan is working out very well. Regarding Howard Commons, the military either has to have those torn down now or will have to heavily discount the price of the property when sold to a developer.
Linda A. Hupfer September 23, 2011 at 12:26 PM
I live accross from Howard Commons. It's terrible. Broken windows, overgrown grass, some of the roofs and overhangs are falling because recent storms. It's in such a state of disrepair. For safety sake....something needs to be done now!
Pete Jon September 23, 2011 at 12:57 PM
Wow, If I were the mayor of Eatontown, I wouldn't go around with my thumbs in my armpits bragging that I was the one to approve those gates. Those gates look terrible! They look like something you'd find in a depressed neighborhood.
Thomas A. Blasi September 23, 2011 at 04:55 PM
I think it’s a shame that the Howard Commons will be demolished when there are so many homeless people who could use a place to live. And when more and more poor residents are becoming senior citizens and could use a place to live what a shame. So it doesn’t meet the building / safety code, those units can be repaired & brought up to code for a lot less than the cost of constructing new units. This herewith is a paradigm of the fiscal problems that continue to plague America; we want to tear everything down the existing and put up a new one that cost more.
renee September 28, 2011 at 06:37 PM
It is a disgrace what our government is permitted to do with OUR money!! I lived in the Howard Commons Housing from 1993-1999. They were all renovated in 1991 & 1992. Money spent for renovations to board them up 10 years later. WASTEFUL GOVERNMENT SPENDING!!! They were not luxury but they were nice and could have easily been brought up to code and modernized. I lived in a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, living room, family room, dining room, kitchen and laundry room, with central air. Again, not luxury but to our retired or men and women who served our country, this would could have been an excellent opportunity to be a homeowner in this area. Do your homework and see the mess that our government leaves behind when they decide to close a base for what they would like us to believe is to "save money".
James Bennett October 12, 2011 at 06:08 PM
they could fix it up into low income housing but that will never happen, it will turn into a redevelopment like pier village in long branch that sits empty,$ 500,000 for a 1 bedroom condo that will sit there and collect dust
Bob English October 13, 2011 at 01:21 AM
James...those places are well beyond being able to be fixed up and they are not built to code. Best bet is having them knocked down ASAP and than hopefully a developer is interested enough to buy the property and build some moderately priced units.
Ricky October 14, 2011 at 02:27 AM
I drive by Howard Commons on a daily basis. I notice deer roaming inside the fences all of the time. One can only imagine what other wildlife have made the long emtpy housing home. What will happen when all of the housing is demolished ?
Bob English October 14, 2011 at 03:16 AM
Ricky...the re-use plan calls for mixed income housing. For that to happen, the property would/will be sold by the Army to a developer.
Robert Brit October 14, 2011 at 02:01 PM
bob just stop the commenting already when your contradicting yourself
Bob English October 14, 2011 at 08:52 PM
Really? Example please

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