Fort Monmouth Not to Be Ebola Site

first_imgBy Laura D.C. KolnoskiFort Monmouth is not envisioned to be a treatment center for Ebola, and no medical treatment for it is contemplated to occur on the premises, Dept. of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez told local officials in a recent letter.Commissioner Velez said that Fort Monmouth “would only be utilized as one possible location to temporarily house out-of-state, asymptomatic travelers for the duration of their quarantine period,” or until transportation can be arranged to the travelers home state.But State Senator Joseph Kyrillos (R-13) thinks that utilizing the state’s empty hospital beds for temporary quarantine would be a much better option than Fort Monmouth.“The senator believes that instead of sending folks to Fort Monmouth for quarantine, the state should be sending them to the thousands of hospital beds currently available,” said Tony Perry, Sen. Kyrillos’ Director of Legislative Affairs. “On average, 27 percent of hospital beds sit vacant, so they should be using the facilities currently available for asymptomatic travelers.”Fort Monmouth and other locations were designated as a potential quarantine site for asymptomatic out-of-state travelers arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport by the Dept. last October, citing its suitability for reasons of safety and privacy.Commissioner Velez said that local and county officials, along with members of the Fort Monmouth Economic Redevelopment Authority (FMERA) overseeing the fort’s redevelopment, were made aware of the plan when it was formulated by NJ Gov. Chris Christie and NY Gov. Mario Cuomo last October.“The senator was very upset and disappointed he was not alerted or made aware of the original decision (to quarantine those returning from West Africa at Fort Monmouth),” Perry said.“He has not discussed the latest letter from Commissioner Velez with the Monmouth County delegation directly yet, other than Senator [Jennifer] Beck,” Perry said. “Both Senator Kyrillos and Senator Beck are still not convinced Fort Monmouth is the right place and hope the issue will be revisited in the near future.”While officials and FMERA members were aware of the fort’s selection as an Ebola quarantine site, they had appealed to the U.S. Army, which still technically owns the fort, to block its use for that purpose. When the Army did not, officials further expressed anger and frustration the decision was imposed upon them.Signing the February 3 letter opposing the plan were Republicans Kyrillos, Beck, N.J. Assembly members Amy Handlin, Mary Pat Angelini, Declan O’Scanlon and Caroline Casagrande, and Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian Burry, the county’s FMERA representative.“Quarantining should not take place at the fort where we’re trying to focus on economic development,” Freeholder Burry said. In addition to acquiring fort facilities for county use, Burry is spearheading the effort to create a comprehensive veterans’ facility there. Tours with potential investors and developers are ongoing, with 500 acres of the 1,128 property already in private or county hands, including the new 55-acre world headquarters of the CommVault data storage company. The creation of thousands of jobs and a boost for the economically beleaguered area that has suffered since the fort closed in 2005 could potentially be adversely affected, officials claim. The designated quarantine area is near the Suneagles Golf Course, one of the properties currently for sale.The mayors of Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls were also angered they were not notified of the impending decision affecting their communities.last_img

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