Eatontown is no longer pursuing the acquisition, renovation or purchase of Mallette Hall on the Fort Monmouth property.
Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo had been pushing for Mallette Hall to be given to the borough as a gift for $1 from Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) and be used as the borough hall. On Wednesday night, Mayor Tarantolo officially ended his pursuit of the acquisition of the building.
"To facilitate discussion tonight, I am admitting defeat in obtaining Mallette Hall as a gift and certainly do not recommend outright purchase," Mayor Tarantolo said in a prepared statement. "I was told by FMERA more recently that I should not be disappointed if the acquisition by gift is denied. The option to purchase was still a possibility but I rejected that option outright."
Mayor Tarantolo said a notice of intent (NOI) was sent to the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization and Planning Authority (FMERPA), the original agency behind the transition of the fort, in 2006 saying that the borough would like to use the building as its future headquarters.
"The rationale to request the building as a gift was further supported by the fact that the federal aid received by Eatontown to cover the cost of that education service (for Fort Monmouth dependents' children) always resulted in a shortfall that never truly covered the real cost of the educational service provided," Mayor Tarantolo said in his statement. "A short fall cost assumed by the taxpaying residents of Eatontown."
Mayor Tarantolo said the shortfall amounted to over $28 million, which is a greater cost than acquiring Mallette Hall and its amenities which include an auditorium, amphitheater, geothermal field and parking lot.
The council passed a resolution stating that it is no longer interested in acquiring the property, but stressed that the borough's NOI on the property remains.
Mayor Tarantolo had suggested that the council "do nothing and wait for the official rejection of our NO from FMERA that should be forth coming in fall of this year."
Councilmember Dennis Connelly and Kevin Gonzalez said a letter should be sent to "put the issue to bed."
"We need to send a letter to make sure they know we are not pursuing it," Councilman Gonzalez said. "I think they should just make it ratable that will create jobs."
Councilman Anthony Talerico agreed that a letter be sent but said that the borough should not remove it's NOI because it could possibly help the borough acquire another structure on the Fort Monmouth property.
"If we simply relinquish our claim, are we losing a bargaining chip and shooting ourselves in the foot," Councilman Talerico said.