Ocean County Press Release
Agreement Focuses on Saving Land, Reducing Encroachment
TOMS RIVER – In the first five years of an agreement between Ocean County and the United States Navy, more than 2,000 acres of land around the military base now known as Joint Base – McGuire, Dix, Lakehurst, has been preserved as open space.
"That is a significant number and means a great deal to the future of the base and the continuation of its mission," said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety.
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is now poised to extend the partnership with the Joint Base which could result in additional funding for land acquisitions.
"By extending this agreement with the Navy and now a new agreement with the U.S. Air Force, the program will continue without interruption," Kelly said. "This partnership with the Department of Defense has had a significant impact on purchasing land and preserving it from development in order to help minimize encroachment around the Joint Base."
Under the original agreement with the Navy, Ocean County received $1,076,633 which resulted in the purchase of six properties totaling 415 acres. In addition, the county anticipates receiving $1,645,700 under the same agreement for three properties totaling 1,191 acres.
One of the largest land acquisitions to occur under the agreement was the partnership between the County and the Navy in order to purchase property known as the Clayton Tract in Jackson Township. The county purchased 387 acres to be preserved as open space under its Natural Lands Trust Fund program while the military secured a deed restriction for 1,415 acres at a cost of $3 million.
"The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has had a strong relationship with Navy Lakehurst and we have worked closely with the base to make sure it remains viable for both homeland security and the economic benefits it provides to the region," said Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. "Now that it is part of the joint base installation, with McGuire Air Force Base and Fort Dix, we want to continue that relationship, and strengthen it through cooperation and partnership."
A recently completed Joint Land Use Study performed around the three military bases located in Central New Jersey, outlined a regional approach to land use as it affects the military bases and the surrounding communities.
The benefits of the study, which involved representatives from Ocean County, Burlington County, the state Pinelands Commission, the New Jersey Office of Smart Growth and surrounding municipalities and the Department of Defense, provided a look at the needs of the military bases and the needs of the surrounding communities with a goal of working together to merge those needs.