A top Christie Administration official told the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Agency (FMERA) that they had no choice but to allocate 14 2 story living units in the Suneagles Golf Course area of the fort, located in Eatontown, for use as quarantine housing for travelers returning from West Africa who may have been exposed to Ebola, according to an official familiar with the situation who asked not to be named in this story.
Bruce Steadman, Executive Director of FMERA, and some members for the FMERA board resisted the Ebola quarantine facility being located at Fort Monmouth when they were approached by NJ Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Valez Esq. last fall. Michele Brown, then Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority , informed Steadman that the quarantine facility was a fait accompli, according to the source.
“They (FMERA) were pushed into by the State,” the source said. “The local members of the board didn’t want it. Their reaction was ‘No way’. They really don’t have authority over the fort as they have to answer to the Christie Administration and the Army.”
The Governor’s office controls the 13 member FMERA board. Only the mayors of Eatontown, Oceanport, Tinton Falls and Freeholder Lillian Burry represent the interests of Monmouth County residents. The remaining board members are Christie appointees and members of his cabinet.
Brown resigned her position as CEO of EDA last month to become CEO and President of Choose Jersey, a non-profit funded by public utilities, insurance companies, banks and other large New Jersey based companies whose mission to to encourage and nurture economic growth throughout New Jersey. Prior to leading EDA, Brown was Christie’s appointments secretary and a Assistant U.S, Attorney when Christie lead that office during the George W. Bush Administration. Choose Jersey his funding Christie’s current junket to the United Kingdom.
LinkNews broke the story about the secret Ebola quarantine facility at Fort Monmouth over the weekend. LinkNews reported that the “confidential plan was leaked to the community by a DHS email which was sent to several residents.” NJ.com reported that Eatontown officials became aware that the facility was operational last week on Wednesday after DHS officials contacted the borough’s fire department for a walk through and site inspection.
The Fort Monmouth Ebola quarantine site is a backup to a facility in Hunterdon County, the former Hagedorn psychiatric hospital . Only when the Hagedorn facility is full with asymptomatic travelers returning from western Africa will new arrivals be transported to Fort Monmouth for a 21 day quarantine.
Eatontown Mayor Dennis Connelly told both LinkNews and NJ.com that the facility’s presence on the fort puts the sale of the Suneagles Golf Course on hold. NJ.com reported that DHS has a six month Memorandum of Understanding to use the seven duplexes for quarantine. However, MMM’s source said the arrangement is open ended and that DHS is not paying FMREA, the county or any of the three towns for use of the facilities or and services they require. MMM’s source also said that the duplexes would likely be demolished when they are no longer in use as Ebola quarantine facilities.