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Freeholder: New Jersey Military Bases 'Vulnerable To Closure'

FREEHOLD: A member of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders is concerned about the future of state's military bases.

"(Members of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority) were all very disturbed by the fact that BRAC is now suddenly stirring," Freeholder Lilian Burry said at the June 11 Monmouth County Freeholders meeting. "Our military bases here in New Jersey are once again vulnerable to closure."

BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) is an agency of the United States federal government which aims to dispose of what it deems to be unnecessary United States Department of Defense real estate. More than 350 installations have been closed in five BRAC rounds, with Fort Monmouth as the latest casualty. The closure of Fort Monmouth, which spans Tinton Falls, Eatontown and Oceanport, was announced in 2005 and the base was officially closed on Sept. 15, 2011.

Burry said members of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA, including herself, are concerned about the possibility of other future base closures because of the impact closures have on the local economy and the difficult process of redeveloping the bases.

"Here we are 8 years later and we're just starting to recover somewhat in a daunting task and we're far from finished," Burry said.

She said some of the local bases that could be targeted are Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Picatinny Arsenal in Jefferson and Rockaway Townships and Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck.

BRAC has not officially made any ruling or announced an closures at this time and the House and Senate versions of the 2016 defense authorization prohibit a new base closure round.

Burry said the impact of any base closure would be detrimental and that the situation should be monitored closely.

"Do you know what that would mean for the state as far as the economy is concerned," Burry said. "I think this is something we should all not rest on. We're going to have to target Washington (DC) on this and we need a really loud voice."

The matter is expected to be an agenda item at the next Freeholder's meeting on June 25 in Lake Como at 7 p.m.

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