The proposal to combine the current maintenance facilities at Gateway National Recreation Area's Sandy Hook Unit and replace them with a new location near the MAST facility is fraught with additional and more serious problems should it be implemented.
While it is essential to preserve historic Fort Hancock and the entire Sandy Hook Gateway Recreation Area, increasing the workload in proximity of a high school with more than 350 students leads to an increased possibility of accidents, injuries, and irresponsibility.
To use the argument that the maintenance operations should be combined because both current areas received flood damage is failing to take into consideration that should another storm the size of Sandy ever occur, the entire Sandy Hook peninsula is, and by its nature always has been, susceptible to flooding. There are no guarantees that any one part of the peninsula is more safe or less susceptible than any other.
Park officials should re-consider the idea of combining its maintenance locations. Again, in the face of a storm, isn’t it more prudent to have not one, but two facilities where personnel can access equipment? Are not two chances better than one of avoiding flooding areas?
Indeed, all of Sandy Hook suffered from Sandy and many facilities, similar to homeowners in communities surrounding Sandy Hook, are still struggling to return to their pre-storm capacity. But that is the sacrifice one makes for choosing to locate on a peninsula between a raging ocean and an active river and bay.
While historic preservation is necessary, laudable, and difficult, it should never be put ahead of safety of human beings. Installing a maintenance facility where personnel will be operating, moving, and working on heavy equipment, is detrimental to the serene nature a high school campus requires in order to provide the best possible education for our youth.
I would strongly urge the National Parks Service to re-think their plans of moving their maintenance facility to the MAST campus, and look for an alternate location or locations, if necessary, for their mobile equipment.
Muriel J. Smith