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Oceanport Police Nearly Evicted From New Home Following Lease Dispute

OCEANPORT: The borough police have settled into their temporary home at Fort Monmouth, but were almost forced to move following a lease dispute between Oceanport and the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA).

The FMERA Board voted during its Sept. 17 meeting to lease the former Main Post Fire House from the Army for a 1-year term, with an option for an additional 6-month extension at its own discretion, and sublease the property to the borough.

However, the lease was not signed by the borough until Jan. 20 following some disagreements on the language of the lease between the two parties.

"The lease as it was signed is the standard form of the lease that first goes from the Army to FMERA and then goes to us," Oceanport Mayor Michael Mahon said at the Feb. 5 council meeting. "Having said that, in the course of receiving that lease for review by our legal counsel, there were certain things in that lease that we sought to modify."

"There were a number of things in the sublease...that did not seem to be beneficial to the borough," Borough Attorney Scott Arnette said.

Arnette said he worked with the attorney general's office and fashioned a work-around with a section of the lease regarding some "environmental issues" with the building that was not ultimately deemed not to be acceptable to FMERA Director of Facilities Planning Rick Harrison.

A new lease was then given to the borough with the "same conditions that the Army has imposed on FMERA."

"The borough was directed by FMERA that 'This is it , if you want it, sign it, if not, we're not going to work with you," Arnette said.

Councilman Joe Irace said the borough decided to sign the lease after FMERA threatened to "evict" the police department if the new lease was not signed.

Irace said he was not happy at all with the tactic by FMERA.

"A gun will not be held to the head of the Oceanport Borough Council to approve bad deals by FMERA," Irace said today.

Mahon said the lease is good through October, 2015 with a 6-month extension "permissible by mutual consent of the parties."

He said there have been no complaints from the police department regarding the building and that it meets their space requirements.

The police were forced to find a new home after Hurricane Sandy severely damaged their previous headquarters at borough hall in 2012.

The firehouse is a 6,089 square foot, 2-story building built in 1935 located in the Fort Monmouth Oceanport Reuse Area's historic district. All of the renovation costs associated with the building will be reimbursed by FEMA.

Read more from: Oceanport

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