Trinity Hall Bids On Fort Monmouth Property

first_imgBy John BurtonMIDDLETOWN – Trinity Hall, a private religious, secondary school for girls, which has been in a lengthy legal battle to construct a permanent campus here, offered a bid for a building and property at the former Fort Monmouth installation.However, it’s unclear whether the site would be the temporary or permanent headquarters for the school or just a satellite. They are currently temporarily housed at Croydon Hall.Rachel Goemaat, a spokeswoman for the state Economic Development Authority (EDA), said last week Trinity Hall submitted its request to offer to purchase the Child Development Center, a childcare facility, located in Tinton Falls.“Negotiations with the leading proposer are ongoing,” Goemaat said; staffers from the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) plan to make their recommendations for this and other proposals for other fort properties at an upcoming FMERA public meeting, possibly as soon as next Wednesday, Oct. 21.Goemaat would not say who the “leading proposer” is and would not reveal the other two proposers.FMERA has received three separate proposals for the child development center. The amount of the bid is not a matter of public record, Goemaat said.The child development center is a nearly 20,000 square-foot facility located off of Corregidor Road on the fort grounds, on a 7.4-acre property with a playground.The fort property redevelopment plan initially envisioned the location to continue to be used as a child development center. However, the request for proposals indicated it would consider other commercial uses, such as business offices or technology purposes, according to information provided by the EDA.Repeated attempts to secure a comment from representatives from Trinity Hall were unsuccessful by press time on Wednesday.It’s uncertain if any move would be a temporary one and what this means for the school’s future plans and its efforts to construct its permanent campus on Chapel Hill Road. When the school again won approval from the township planning board in July, Victoria Gmelich, the school’s co-founder and board of trustees member, said, “We’re ready to break ground” on the Chapel Hill Road site and commence construction.Trinity Hall is an independently operated high school and offers a college preparatory and Catholic-based educational curriculum for girls and has been leasing space at the township-owned Croydon Hall, in the Leonardo section.The school had been planning to construct its facility on about 37 acres of an approximately 64-acre undeveloped and largely wooded property on Chapel Hill Road in the area of Kings Highway East. Its plan was to build a facility that could eventually accommodate 500 students.Some area residents have been waging a determined battle against the school’s plans. Objectors maintain the use is too intense for the largely residential area and poses environmental and traffic safety concerns.
Area homeowners took their battle – which at times got quite contentious – to Superior Court looking to overturn local approvals.Following July’s planning board approval, Ron Gasiorowski, the objectors’ lawyer, said there were two continuing lawsuits and possibly a third forth coming opposing the development.Gasiorowski did not return calls to his Red Bank office this week seeking comment for this story.Trinity Hall’s development application was before the planning board on three separate occasions. Initially the local board denied the application with a judge remanding it back to the board after the school appealed, with the judge striking down a portion of a local zoning ordinance.On the second occasion, the board approved the plan, with the judge again remanding it, ruling the board acted improperly by not allowing additional public comment during the hearing. On the third hearing, the board again approved the plan but residents said they would continue the legal fight opposing it.School supporters have insisted the use would be a much less intense use than the alternative. The property had previously been approved for development for 20 single-family homes.The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) was established after the U.S. Department of Defense closed the 90-year-old Army base in September 2011. The authority is charged with redeveloping the fort’s 1,126 acres of Tinton Falls, Eatontown and Oceanport property for the economic benefit of the region and state.last_img

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