Answers Being Sought About Deal to Use Fort Monmouth as an Ebola Quarantine Site
It appears that the state's six month lease to use Fort Monmouth as a quarantine facility for airport passengers who may have been exposed to ebola, has caught everyone by surprise. The mayors who serve on the former base's economic redevelopment authority, also known as FMERA, and State Senators Joe Kyrillos (R-D13) and Jennifer Beck (R-D11) along with their assembly counterparts all said they were also unaware of the arrangement.
"I think all of us were caught by surprise by this decision of the state government to use Fort Monmouth as a quarantine facility," said Kyrillos.
He and the other state lawmakers have sent a letter to Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez seeking answers.
The questions include:
- What is the legal basis that gives you the authority to designate sections of Fort Monmouth as a quarantine facility? Please cite the specific statute, rule or regulation that gives you the authority to make this designation?
- With Hackensack University Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and University Hospital in Newark having been designated by the Governor as the primary treatment facilities in New Jersey was there a justifiable need for a fourth facility to be designated?
- Was there a request by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or by any other Federal agency that requested the state to secure an additional facility?
- What were the procedures that DHS followed in determining that Fort Monmouth could serve as a quarantine facility given that it currently sits vacant and there are empty hospital beds across the state?
Kyrillos and Oceanport Administrator John Bennett said the state's actions send a chilling message to perspective industries looking to buy property on the massive shuttered base that once housed and employed thousands of soldiers and civilians.
"Someone who could be a perspective purchaser of the property may be apprehensive as to what could occur if there is the ability to just sign a lease or to put something next door without it going through a public process," explained Bennett.
Bennett said the six month lease was signed by the Attorney General, not given public exposure and not generally supported by the authority. He said the Mayors of Oceanport, Tinton Falls and Eatontown want guarantees that it won't be repeated.
The former military installation is spread out on 1,126 acres and is surrounded by Eatontown, Tinton Falls and Oceanport, New Jersey.