PHOTO: History House at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook
SANDY HOOK – Middletown Mayor Stephanie C. Murray, township administrator Anthony Mercantante and Atlantic Highlands and Monmouth County Environmental Commissions member James Krauss were among the six new members appointed to the Fort Hancock 21st Century Federal Advisory Committee this week, each for three year terms.
Announcement of the appointments by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was made by Superintendent of the Gateway National Recreation Area Jennifer T. Nersesian, who said the new appointments bring the total membership of the committee to 24 persons.
Murray was elected as a Middletown township committeewoman in 2012 and currently serves as mayor. During the past year, she served informally as a conduit between town government and the committee. She organized and chaired Middletown 350, a group organizing the celebration of the town’s 350th anniversary. A former assistant trader on the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange, Murray owns and operates Crescent Moon Press, Inc., a publishing company.
Mercantante, who has been Middletown’s administrator since 2008, is a licensed professional planner in New Jersey and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Prior to becoming administrator, he served as Middletown’s planner for 30 years. He has helped other towns in and out of the state with planning for a variety of issues, including the management of growth and environmental concerns.
Krauss becomes the first representative for Atlantic Highlands to serve on the Commission representing the borough and will serve with an emphasis on the Natural Resources Community. In making the appointment Secretary Jewell said Krauss, a Certified Public Accountant with over 40 years’ experience, “brings several diverse interests and talents to the group.” He chairs the Atlantic Highlands Environmental Commission and also serves as a member of the Monmouth County Environmental Council. There are two other residents of the borough who also serve on the committee and were just re-appointed this year; however, one is representing the borough where Timothy Hill is Highlands borough administrator and the Lynda Rose is President of the Eastern Area Chamber of Commerce.
Also appointed to three year terms are Michael Walsh, a 20 year resident of Fair Haven and former councilman, police commissioner and zoning board member, Katherine H. Stevenson, recently retired after 40 years with the National Park Service, and Jeffrey C. Tyler, Hazlet, a senior director at Express Scripts, and current chairman of the Hazlet Land Use Board.
Reappointed to three year terms along with Hill, who has 33 years of experience in municipal government and the NJ Recreation and Park Association, and Rose, whose Chamber represents more than 500 businesses in Monmouth and Ocean counties, are Shawn A. Welch, retired Army officer who served as chief of the command and installations analysis Division, Army Program Analysis and Evaluation, a founding member of the Army Ground Forces Association (AGFA) who helped preserve gun batteries at Fort Mott, Fort Monroe and Fort MacArthur; Mary Eileen Fouratt , executive director of the Monmouth County Arts Council; Guy T. Hembling, president of Charles B. Hembling & Son, Inc., Shrewsbury who oversees numerous historic restoration projects, including Fort Hancock Barracks Building 22—the home of New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium; Karolyn Wray, director, relocation & business development/broker, and office manager for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, New Jersey Properties; and Margot Walsh, Executive director of the Jersey Shore Partnership and president of its Foundation.
“The expansion of membership will give even greater depth to a committee that has already accomplished a lot of work in a short time,” said Nersesian. “We look forward to benefiting from the additional expertise the new members bring to the table as we make historic buildings available for leases as residences, bed-and-breakfasts, not-for-profit offices and businesses. They will help us revive Fort Hancock as a viable, vibrant community.”
With the goal of creating a useful forum for input by relevant stakeholders, members of the Advisory Committee are elected representatives of local municipalities, as well as others with experience in fields including natural or cultural resources, business, the arts, education, real estate, recreation and hospitality.
The Committee was established in September 2012 to advise the Interior Secretary through the Director of the Park Service, on strategies for the preservation and adaptive reuse of buildings in the Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook National Historic Landmark District. Meetings of the Committee are open to the public , with the next meeting set for Friday, Sept. 18, at the Eastern Branch Library, 1001 Route 35, Shrewsbury. Meetings begin at 9 a.m. with a public comment period established at 11:30 a.m. All materials, meeting agendas and minutes can be found on the Committee’s website at http://forthancock21.org. A new Call for Nominations will be issued later this summer for members whose terms expire this month. The Commission could include up to 30 members.
Currently, the National Park Service is awaiting requests for proposals (RFPs) for several of the buildings along Officer’s Row, with the first deadline set for Sept. 30. All RFPs must be for uses compatible with residential use and could include B&Bs but not restaurants. Current lease holders along Officers Row, the American Littoral Society which has been there since 1960 and the History house museum will remain.
The Park Service has not yet made any determination on what action it will take with relation to the barracks whose roof caved in last April and which remains fenced off but unrepaired since the cave in. A structural analysis is still being completed and all possible options will be explored before a final determination will be made.