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Resident-Created Petition Aims To Eliminate Oceanport BOE Choice For New School

OCEANPORT: A group of borough residents have created a petition to remove the Oceanport Board of Education's (BOE) choice as a possible new school location.

Last month, the BOE decided that the former Commvault building located in the Monmouth Corporate Park between Route 36 and Crescent Place is the best option for a new school building. The site has been empty since Commvault moved to a site at Fort Monmouth in Tinton Falls in 2013. The board chose this option over building a new PreK-4 school behind Wolf Hill School or building a PreK-8 school at Fort Monmouth.

The petition states that the Crescent Place site is "not a suitable location for the Oceanport Schools for many reasons."

"We respectfully urge The Oceanport Board of Education to consider the overwhelming negative effects this referendum could have on the town of Oceanport, it's residents, and the Oceanport Schools' students and staff," the petition states. "We request that the Board of Education stop spending money on costly environmental testing for a location that does not have the public support to be a viable option. Rather than move forward with the current referendum, we encourage the Oceanport Board of Education to choose an option that minimizes the negative impacts on our town & does not expose the students and staff to unnecessary safety and environmental risks."

The petition lists several issues with the chosen site including a reduction in school facilities because of the fact that there will only be one gym and cafetorium instead of two gyms and cafeterias. Issues with the property are also listed including the nearby proximity to a creek which reportedly floods, nearby power lines and environmental issues on the site because of the building's previous uses. Increased bussing costs, a lack of sidewalks and the fact that the site is located so close to the highway and Monmouth Park were also listed as negatives.

The petition also states that uncertainty with the future of the vacated Maple Place and Wolf Hill Schools are also not a positive.

"We cannot predict who will buy the properties, what will be done with them, or the impact it will have on the community," the petition states.

The option also carries a $30 million price tag and would cost the average taxpayer in Oceanport an additional $569.70 a year. The average Sea Bright taxpayer would see an annual increase of $67.93. The Wolf Hill option was priced at $29.8 million and the fort option was estimated at $30.8 million.

The board has until March 29 to file their plans with New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE). The NJDOE has until June 27 to get back to the board regarding the project and any possible state aid costs.

The board would then file its plans with the County Board of Elections to have a special referendum on Oct. 2. If a majority of residents vote to approve the referendum, the plan is to have the school open for start of the 2020-21 school year.


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