Fred Carl began the effort to save Camp Evans by transforming it into a Science Education Center in March of 1993 when its closing under BRAC was announced. An article in the Asbury Park Press carried the headline “Evans Likely to Fade in Oblivion”. With the backing of Wall Township he did research into the creation of science centers using the resources of the Association of Science and Technology Centers. He presented a plan to the Town which was included it in the Marconi Park Reuse plan in 1995. The BRAC program called for the buildings to be turned over ready for immediate reuse.
Over the years he has visited over 25 centers to see their operation first hand. Reaching out to organizations with technology education and historic preservation programs he built a consortium dedicated to preserving Camp Evans as a Science Center. In 1998 the group incorporated as a not-for-profit named the Information Age Learning Center trading as the InfoAge Science-History Center. Also in 1998 Fred created a website for InfoAge at www.InfoAge.org. The site has grown to over 1,200 pages of information.
As Township historian Fred researched into the history of Camp Evans using existing works and materials found in the National Archives, Fort Monmouth, Stanford University, Princeton University and the Smithsonian Institution. In 2001 he nominated and successful defended an application to the state of New Jersey to create the 37 acre Camp Evans Historic District. The goal was to have Camp Evans listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At that point the Army federal preservation officer, Mr. Raymond Fatz, delayed the signing of the nomination. Preservation NJ helped raise public awareness and a protest to the keeper of the national register was filed. Finally after 18 months and intervention by Congressman Chris Smith, Mr. Fatz signed the nomination. The NPS then processed it immediately. Once on the Register Fred and his organization submitted the complex application to the Historic Surplus Property Program. When approved in 2002 by the NPS it paved the way for the transfer of the historic district to Wall Township. The transfer document contractually requires the preservation of the site and the creation of the InfoAge Science History Center.
A major problem now stood in the way. In spite of Army cultural heritage regulations the army stopped caring for the buildings. They refused to allow InfoAge volunteers to maintain the buildings. This was permissible under BRAC regulations. Over time suspected lead-based paint peeled off the buildings exteriors as well as the interior walls. The 1914 Marconi building interiors became infested with mold and fungus. The NJ DEP was ready to invoke the spill-act the conditions were so bad. The Township of Wall informed Fred they would not accept the buildings with the potential of a giant lead-based paint remediation bill. As this was a ‘do or die’ situation Fred paid for the training and earned a state of NJ license to remediate lead-based paint. On his own time and at his own expense he remediated nine buildings to the NJ DEP’s satisfaction. The army properly disposed of the suspected hazardous materials.
In 2003 the army removed the sanitary sewers as a precaution against mercury contamination. They refused to replace the sewers. In doings so the Army contractors cut the underground electrical feeds. The army also began proceedings to auction the property to developers. The Township of Wall and the New Jersey Historic Preservation office were not in the position to help. With the support of Congressman Chris Smith, Township Attorney Roger McLaughlin and Elizabeth Merritt, general counsel of the national trust for historic preservation, they stopped the auction as well as compelled the army to follow environmental laws, BRAC regulations and to repair the broken electrical feeds. In addition the army had to replace the sewers removed from the historic district. To remediate the lead-based paint and the mold infestation in the remaining buildings, the army choose to completely gut the interiors of all the WW2 era buildings.
In 2006 eight buildings of which four were from the Marconi era, two from the satellite era and two from WW2 on 17 acres were transferred to Wall. None of which were ready to occupy. Under Fred’s leadership InfoAge with the support of Wall Township and Monmouth County InfoAge replaced the roofs, installed new heat and added air conditioning to five buildings. When transferred, not a single building had working plumbing. Nine restrooms were restored to service. InfoAge has repainted the exteriors of the WW2 and satellite era buildings and the entire interiors of seven buildings.
In 2006 Fred was honored with one of the Russel Berrie Awards for Making a Difference. Also in 2006 Wall was given the distinction of being named New Jersey’s first Preserve America Community by first lady Mrs. Laura Bush. In 2009 InfoAge was honored by the White House by the designation a Preserve America Stewards. InfoAge was one of only eleven organizations in the nation to be so designated that year.
Finally in 2009, after years of delay the army transferred the remaining WW2 era buildings which were empty shells. They had finished replacing the remaining sewers. Sadly, we would find they removed most to the electrical feeds and electrical panels from building to building. This needless action greatly increased our repair costs.
In 2012 they army transferred the last two buildings. These were from the Marconi era. They were completely gutted and vandalized.
Fred and his fellow volunteers continue the work of restoration as they raise funds and establish educational science-history programs.
With the help of Wall Township, Congressman Chris Smith, Preservation NJ, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation the organization met many challenges presented during the BRAC process. Fred has saved the effort to preserve Camp Evans and create InfoAge well over a million dollars in labor. From inception in 1993 to 2012 Fred donated his time and over $80,000 to help save Camp Evans. Currently he is a part time employee of InfoAge filling the role of COO.
Posted March 24, 2017