Published in The Asbury Park Press on May 14, 2004
WALL — Army officials who had not visited Camp Evans in 2 1/2 years were “impressed” by its considerable deterioration and the potential health risks it poses, a military spokesman said.
After they toured the site for more than an hour last week, military officials said that by early June the Army will devise cost estimates for the cleanup and restoration of the buildings at the former radar research facility, according to Henry Kearney, a Fort Monmouth spokesman.
As part of a memorandum of agreement reached in 2001, approximately 140,000 square feet of buildings in the 217-acre camp’s historic district are to be transferred to the township at no cost.
But township officials said they now worry the structures will be unusable because they have fallen into a dilapidated state. During a sewer removal project a few years ago, power was cut to the structures for several winters, causing them to deteriorate. “It ain’t pretty,” said Bob McAllan, chairman of the Camp Evans Restoration Advisory Board and a participant on last week’s walk-through. “I have to be honest, the conditions of the buildings have deteriorated and (are) getting to the point where some of the buildings are going to be beyond repair.”
Kearney said the Army will work with the township’s environmental consultant to formulate cost estimates and solutions to remedy the mostly vacant buildings’ deterioration, which are exposing lead-based paint, asbestos and mold.
“We got their promise they’re going to try to work with us,” McAllan said.
Township Attorney Roger McLaughlin said the township has no plans to pay for any cleanup at the camp.
“It was never our plan to do that,” he said. “The question is how can we get (the buildings) back to a usable condition so we can take them over. I think the Army was very understanding of the fact that we anticipated and are entitled to get usable buildings.”
Kearney said it’s premature to speculate about costs, but noted the Army “obviously doesn’t have an unlimited budget.”
He added the Army already has invested more than $25 million in soil remediation at the site, and work currently is under way to repair roof leaks in some of the buildings.
The structures exhibiting the most decay are the H-buildings, named for their shape. The World War II-era structures total about 100,000 square feet and were to be converted into a township-leased nonprofit information and technology museum that would include the history of the camp and be run by township resident Fred Carl.
A temporary museum is being housed in two 1,200-square-foot houses across the street from the H-buildings, under an agreement with the Army. Transfer of the H-buildings initially was delayed because Army missions were still being conducted at the camp, and later, because of soil contamination found at the site around 2000.
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