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Residents opposed to opening base housing

Typing Letter to the Editor for the Opinion page.

We oppose the privatization of the Balfour Beatty housing units on Naval Weapons Station Earle. The firm’s lease fails to promote the national defense or public interest.

In February, Balfour Beatty will be allowed to market their housing units to the general public on the largest weapons station in the Western Hemisphere.

Earle cannot be duplicated anywhere in the United States. The Navy has two other weapons facilities that do not permit civilians to live on base.

Earle’s mission is to deploy ordnance to our troops and they do a great job.

The National Defense Act of 2008 requires through background checks on all civilians visiting or working on military bases. Minors cannot be vetted.

The additional cost factor to the Department of Defense if this plan is implemented could prove to be a burden. A better way would be for the government to buy out the Balfour Beatty contract, like it did with the Laurelwood housing on Earle.

Expenses associated with housing for civilians could include security; vetting costs; Superfund site cleanup.

The fact that you will be creating small civilian town on a military base poses other challenges. Civilians are not subject to military rules or regulations. Civilian renters have rights. An increase in traffic on Route 34 and Route 18 will increase the costs of servicing and maintaining roads impacted by this plan.

There could be increased costs and pressure on local governments; police department, volunteer fire departments, emergency units, schools (more enrollment equates to higher property taxes), federal impact aid (impact aid to local governments would have to increase). Balfour Beatty is not subject to local property taxes.

The housing units will be offered to civilians at a much lower rate than our military families. The only winner in this equation is Balfour Beatty. Their contract with the Department of Defense expires 36 years from now.

We cannot anticipate the outcome of allowing civilians to occupy housing on a weapons station. We can act in the best interest of our country by halting the marketing of these units and requesting the Department of Defense do a full security and financial accounting of this contract.

Elaine and David Mann
Colts Neck

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