Published in The Coast Star on June 5, 2003
On Monday night, the town-ship’s planning board approved a technical subdivision of the property necessary to facilitate the transfer.
Mr. McLaughlin, who represented the township at the meeting, said the purpose of the technical subdivision is to divide Camp Evans into parcels which will then be conveyed to the township individually.
The subdivision split Camp Evans into a dozen separate parcels ranging in size from three acres to 65 acres.
In 1993, the Army identified the 196-acre Camp Evans for closure under its Base Realignment and Closure Program [BRAC].
Once the Army had decided to close the camp, Mr. McLaughlin said, the township had several options at its disposal.
For example, he said the township could have sat by and done nothing – in which case, if no other entity expressed interest, the property would have been sold off at market value for residential development.
Instead, Mr. McLaughlin said the township opted to take on the property, which will it will receive at no cost.
“That’s the beauty of this,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Because all of the pieces [of property] are for public use, we don’t have to pay for it.”
Mr. McLaughlin said planning for the use of the property began shortly after Camp Evans was identified for closure, when the township formed a reuse committee to recommend ways to use the property to the public’s benefit.
That committee developed a reuse plan, which called for active and passive recreation, as well as historical and educational uses on the property.
In total, the township will receive 175 acres of Camp Evans – which includes the nearly 38 acres dedicated to the InfoAge Science History Learning Center.
On its portion of Camp Evans, InfoAge will preserve the historic buildings and operate an interactive hands-on learning center centered around information-age technologies. Although he said the final details have yet to be hammered out, Mr. McLaughlin said he thinks it unlikely the township will require InfoAge to pay to lease its portion of Camp Evans.
“In lieu of rent, we’ll probably make them maintain the buildings and make improvements,” Mr. McLaughlin said, adding that the township looks forward to the success of the learning center.
Fred Carl, director of the Infoage Learning Center, said the imminent transfer of the Camp Evans property is the result of hard work by many different people.
“It has been difficult to say the least,” Mr. Carl said. “Thanks to the foresight of the Wall Township Committee and many dedicated citizens, many generations of Wall Township residents will benefit. The recreation areas will help with the body, the Communiversity and science history center will help improve minds. The Camp Evans historic district will give long over-due honor to the thousands of Navy and Signal Corps staff who helped build our nation’s electronic defense.”
The township’s portion of the camp also includes the North Wall Little League complex, as well as passive recreation fields.
Mr. McLaughlin said Brookdale Community College will receive roughly 21 acres of Camp Evans for its Communiversity, which he said, “will bring higher education to Wall Township.”
The Communiversity is an alliance of eight colleges and universities including Brookdale, Georgian Court College, Kean University, Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, New Jersey City University, Ocean County College and Rutgers University. It is the only such alliance in the state.
Mr. McLaughlin said JCP&L, which currently has a pump station at Camp Evans, will receive a three-acre-parcel of property on the northeast corner of the camp to expand its facility.
Mr. McLaughlin said the deed transfers could begin as soon as late this week or early next week, with an initial transfer of several parcels totalling nearly 165 acres.
Mr. McLaughlin said the remaining parcels will be transferred to the township once the Army has completed installation of sewer lines. After being a point of contention for several years, the Army agreed last October to replace sewer lines which had been subject to mercury contamination and removed. The project carried an estimated pricetag of $290,000.
Mr. McLaughlin said the deed transfers should be completed by the end of the summer or early in September.
However, Mr. McLaughlin said the property will not be transferred directly from the Army to the township.
He explained that under federal ,law, after the township’s reuse plan had been approved, the individual parcels will be transferred from the Army to the federal agency handling the use approved for each piece of Camp Evans.
For example, he said the National Park Service will convey to the township the parcels which we be used for active and passive recreation. Additional transfers are being handled by the federal Department of Education and the Army Corps of Engineers.