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Eatontown Mayor Concerned About 'Blight' on Howard Commons, Worries for Children's Safety

Once home to a thriving military community, Mayor Tarantolo says the area in now a crumbling, vacant ghost town through which 47 borough children are expected to walk to school each day.

Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo said that he recently got a call from a parent, who lives in the Pine Brook Road section of town, which left him disturbed.

Speaking to some residents meeting at borough hall on Tuesday night, Tarantolo said the caller told him: "I'm not letting my kid walk to school through there."

At the parent's suggestion, the mayor took a ride out through Howard Commons, the now-empty military housing adjacent to three apartment complexes.

"I was appalled by what I saw there," said Tarantolo. "It was worse than the Bronx in the 60s."

Tarantolo called the situation a "blight" on Howard Commons. Once home to the families of soldiers stationed at Fort Monmouth, the neighborhood is vacant, overgrown and quickly becoming dilapidated, and he feels, potentially dangerous.

The residents at the Tuesday meeting had gathered to hear Tarantolo's latest update on Fort Monmouth and its progress toward redevelopment. They echoed his concerns about the empty housing.

"It's terrible," said one resident named Danny. "I live right on Eaton Crest. It's terrible."

Another resident said she felt scared when she drove through the area and noted the holes in the fencing.

Tarantolo said that after his ride through the empty neighborhood, he immediately called the manager of the garrison at Fort Monmouth, which is essentially the town government of the fort. According to the mayor, the garrison manager said that there was a problem of vagrancy there, but that the garrison couldn't keep track of it. (The garrison is in the process of in anticipation of the). 

The specific problem affects residents who live in the apartments at Eaton Crest, Wedgewood and Victoria Gardens. They live outside of the school busing perimeter and their children are expected to walk the approximately 7/10 of a mile through the old neighborhood to Memorial Middle and Vetter Elementary schools.

The mayor said that parents in this neighborhood have had to make other arrangements to get their kids to school. "I kind of feel for them," he told Patch, saying that he knew it was an inconvenience to parents.

Tarantolo said he wants to see those kids bused safely to school but since this is a problem caused by the federal government's decision to shut down Fort Monmouth, he said, he wants the federal government to pay for it. Finding federal funding however has proved difficult.

Bruce Steadman, executive director of the ), said Wednesday that the Army has said it will not pay for the busing of students.

Instead, FMERA has asked that the Army demolish the housing, which is ultimately a part of the . Because these structures were not built to, they are not fit for reuse. FMERA plans to sell the land to a developer for high denisty housing.

No word yet on if and when the Army will demolish.

Check back with Patch for more details on reuse of the Howard Commons property.

Bob English September 15, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Hard to believe that Mr. Tindoll would talk about savings when it is now known that the move will cost close to $2 billion more than the false/incorrect numbers that the Army/DOD gave to BRAC. Also note that a GOA report noted that It will take 8 to 13 years after the closing of Fort Monmouth before the Army recovers the full complement and caliber of scientists and engineers that support the Global War on Terrorism today. A former member of BRAC, said he did not believe the Commission would have voted to close the Fort if they had this information.
Kevin Muldowney September 15, 2011 at 01:40 PM
Government mentality when it comes to spending - If it ain't broke, fix it till it is. And why is the option to any large area of land "high density housing"? All that will do is cause overcrowding of schools, further congestion of roads, more strain in resources - water, public works, police, etc. Why not look to recruit businesses to the site which will have a greater impact on the area? This will help the housing market for those employees that wish to move into the area and the local economy(restaurants, contractors, landscapers, etc.).
Sal September 22, 2011 at 11:15 AM
The Federal Government and the military will NEVER pay for the demolition work. NEVER. They are walking away and turning over their mess to NJ and like a bunch of fools we are accepting it..
renee September 28, 2011 at 06:23 PM
I lived in this housing from 1993 to 1999. It was a very nice area to live and the housing was very nice. They were all renovated in 1992. This is just another example of government waste and spending. This housing could have been offered to military men and women who served our country who wished to settle and remain in this area.
Devalin SuperAlien Wells April 10, 2014 at 02:36 PM
And to think I use ro live in those apt back in 85,86,87,and 88

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