Published in The Coast Star on March 16, 2000
By Desiree A. DiCorcia
At last week’s Restoration Advisory Board [RAB] meeting, Army Base Transition Coordinator Mike Ruane announced that Wall Township has agreed to sponsor the historic district at Camp Evans.
At first, the township had been reluctant to sponsor the district, due to its size and importance as an historic treasure, explained Mr. Carl.
Both the township and the Army were expecting the county to sponsor the district, but after a recent meeting, the township agreed to do so:
“It is really a good deal for the taxpayers of the township to have a non-profit organization use the site to help cover the bills, while at the same time preserving a very historic site,” stated Mr. Carl.
Mr. Ruane notified the board that the township will be granted a five year lease to the Information-Age Learning Center [ILC], the Marconi Buildings and the C district.
If the township is satisfied with the work that the ILC is doing, it can re-lease the property. Otherwise, the county will take over the property for county use.
Once the environmental remediation of the camp is complete, the Army will begin the process of transferring the different sections of the camp. The first step is sending an application of transfer to the Department of the Interior.
Mr. Ruane explained that the property must be transferred from a government entity to another government entity.
When the Department of Interior files the transfer to Wall Township, it will also earmark the property for certain uses, from which the township will not be allowed to deviate.
“This is a very positive indication. This will enable us to get the property and make the application to the Department of the Interior, because we need a government entity to hold the title,” stated Mr. Carl. .
A lot of people have been looking forward to doing this for a really long time,” he added.
The Army has estimated that the historic district will be in the hands of Wall Township by the end of this year.
Mr. Ruane also said that section E of the camp, which contains the Diana Site, is slated to be transferred at the end of June.
Sections A and B of the camp, which contain the Native American remains, are held up due to ongoing negotiations with the tribes.
We are still under negotiations with certain tribes. We have invited representatives from the tribes to the camp, and they should visit soon,” stated Mr. Ruane.
During an extensive archaeological survey being performed by the Army, archaeologists unearthed
arrowheads and pottery, along with portions of a skull and clavicle.
By studying the remains, the archaeologists estimated that the remains were part of a 1,000 year old Native American Burial Ground.
Federal regulations required that the remains be re-interred and,that all state and federal Native American tribes be notified of the discovery within 72 hours.
“Currently, we are consulting with the tribes. We had a telephone conference with the Western Delaware Nation and the Delaware Nation of Oklahoma,” stated Mr. Ruane.
The Army has plans to bring the two tribes to the site and meet with them in the near future, in order to discover how to handle the remains.
“This is a cultural burial site, we need to make sure that it is handled properly and in accordance with the tribes,” stated Mr. Ruane. Mr. Ruane noted that the Army is unaware of how large the burial ground is, because of federal regulations which forced the archaeologists to stop digging after the initial remains were unearthed.
The 60 acres of camp property which is slated to be transferred to Brookdale Community College is expected to be the first parcel of the .property which is transferred.
“We are submitting the application for transfer soon to the Department of Education,” stated Mr. Ruane.
The board noted that Wall Township is moving ahead with the construction on the North Wall Little League Fields at the camp. The township received a license agreement from the Army in November to begin work before the transfer.
The Army expects to have fully removed the camp’s sewer lines, which were found to be contaminated with mercury, by late this June.
“We are waiting for the sewer lines to be removed and the Native American remains to be claimed to proceed with the bulk of the transfer process,” explained Mr. Ruane. The board also discussed the future of the National Landmark Volunteer program, which was slated to run from this July 16 to July 29.
Landmark Volunteers is a nationally renown, non-profit organization which offers high school students the opportunity to spend two weeks working at one of several important historical, cultural, environmental and social service institutions throughout the nation.
Mr. Ruane noted that when the program was announced, the camp was already expected to have been transferred.
He suggested that the group get permission to utilize one area of the camp that is environmentally sound for transfer, like the Diana Site and the historic cottages.
“We are concerned with safety in the most decrepit buildings. Construction will also still be going on at the time,” stated Mr. Ruane.
He also suggested that Mr. Carl and Lawrence Tormey, the leaders of the project, write up a list of specific tasks for the students to perform, to be approved by the Army.
“We are all trying to get, the job done correctly and the best way we can, while protecting the Army and the people,” stated Mr. Ruane.
Mr. Carl informed the board that the students will have plenty to do, which includes learning from an ecologist and carving out nature trails.
Mr. Ruane informed the board that the Army will offer the students equipment and facilities to aid in the process, as long as they are sure that the students are well out of harm’s way.
While it does not look like the project is in jeopardy of being scrapped, the Army will have, the final word on whether it goes off, and this depends on whether the remediation effort continues to proceed without a hitch.
In other news, the RAB discussed whether it will dissolve itself after the property is transferred.
“I think we should continue, because there are many people who have questions, especially those who live in the surrounding areas,” stated Mr. Tormey.
Board member Jim Stigliano noted that the board has already dwindled down to only a handful of dedicated members.
Mr. Ruane suggested that the board could continue to exist, but under different circumstances. He advised that the RAB might want to meet quarterly instead of once a month, and it could change its function from an advisory board to an oversight board.
He noted that there will be about two to five years of additional construction and renovations on the
The board decided to revisit the issue at its June meeting.