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Public Statements

Letter to Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Parks Service - Rehabilitation Efforts at Fort Hancock and Improvement Projects at Sandy Hook

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Rush Holt (NJ-12) Wednesday requested the National Park Service appoint an individual to oversee any further leasing of the historic Fort Hancock buildings at Sandy Hook. The individual would be specifically tasked with monitoring the restoration of buildings. The individual would also work as a liaison between the community and Gateway National Recreation Area's Sandy Hook unit to provide information to potential Fort Hancock building lessees. The liaison would provide logistical information about available space in the historic buildings and potential benefits such as rent subsidies and tax breaks for investing in the buildings.

The appointment would also allow NPS to identify and move forward with optimal tenants on a building by building basis. The prior lease included 36 buildings and left the buildings to deteriorate until the lease was finally canceled. The liaison will have the capacity to take a new approach of working on an individual basis and ensure that each building is restored in a timely and efficient manner.

"Several non-profit and government organizations have already leased buildings at Fort Hancock," said Pallone. "These organizations maintain the buildings while providing valuable services and support to the local community and the thousands of visitors that come to Sandy Hook each year. This position would be an important go-between for new organizations that may be thinking about relocating to this site. Additional oversight will also protect the interests of the taxpayers as well as the integrity of the ongoing fort preservation. I urge the park service to quickly move forward to fill this position."

"The historic buildings at Fort Hancock played an important role in our nation's military history and it's a shame that they have been allowed to fall into their current state of disrepair," said Holt. "I strongly urge NPS director Jarvis to appoint personnel to the Gateway National Recreation Area with expertise in historic preservation who has the experience to act quickly to preserve these national treasures for future generations."

The liaison would also promote an ongoing dialogue between the community and park service, soliciting input on the project, and allow the park service to move restoration forward on a building-by-building basis immediately

This letter comes in response to meetings and discussions with community leaders and Fort Hancock personnel on the current and future preservation efforts for the historic Fort Hancock buildings.

In October, the National Park Service (NPS) announced that an arbiter agreed upon by the park service and Rumson developer James Wassel upheld the park service's cancellation of Wassel's 60-year lease to renovate and commercially develop at least 36 buildings at historic Fort Hancock.

The findings by the arbiter ended the 10-year process that began when Wassel's proposal for the rehabilitation of historic buildings at the fort was selected by the park service in 1999 from among 22 submitted for consideration.

The text of the letter appears below.

July 9, 2010

Director Jon Jarvis
National Parks Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Director Jarvis:

We write to request that you make an appointment of personnel at Gateway National Recreation Area's Sandy Hook Unit to concentrate on the rehabilitation of the historic Fort Hancock buildings. We believe the appointment of an individual whose responsibilities include overseeing rehabilitation efforts at Fort Hancock and improvement projects at Sandy Hook is critical to ensuring future generations will enjoy all that the park has to offer.

In meeting with our constituents, we have heard a variety of concerns and suggestions regarding the path forward in rehabilitating the historic buildings. In the past, efforts to rehabilitate the buildings as part of an all-encompassing project have not worked, leaving the buildings to deteriorate. In the interest of preserving the buildings and in support of constituent input, we encourage the National Parks Service to pursue an approach of restoration on a building-by-building basis.

Appointing an individual to specialize in the development of Fort Hancock will not only facilitate an efficient rehabilitation process, but allow the National Parks Service to better engage the community as that process moves forward. It is important as we work towards the restoration of Fort Hancock that community input is the basis on which we proceed.

Additionally, organizations would more likely take advantage of the opportunities afforded by locating to Fort Hancock if there was a National Park Service liaison to provide relevant information. A number of organizations and government agencies are currently located at Sandy Hook and their hard work restoring the buildings and contributions to the community should serve as an example to other organizations that are considering locating to Ft. Hancock.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

FRANK PALLONE, JR. RUSH HOLT
Member of Congress Member of Congress


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