Eliminate Crescent Place as an option for Oceanport Schools

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On January 24, 2018, the Oceanport Board of Education voted to move forward with a referendum that will relocate the Oceanport Schools to Monmouth Park Corporate Center II located at 2 Crescent Place, Oceanport. We, the undersigned, oppose moving the Oceanport Schools to the Oceanport Crescent Place site. The Crescent Place site is not a suitable location for the Oceanport Schools for many reasons.

The Crescent Place building, located in an industrial park, shares the property with other commercial buildings. St. Barnabas, with hundreds of employees, occupies most of the space in the other buildings. Currently, there are two sections of office space unoccupied in the St. Barnabas building that the owners are looking to rent. Employees from these offices walk the shared property and park in the parking lot behind the proposed school building. Office employees, future unknown building tenants, and their visitors will be near the school building, the playgrounds, and the Oceanport students and staff.

The Crescent Place building site is located next door to a transient hotel, La Quinta Inn. On January 13, 2017, there was an attempted murder in the parking lot of the La Quinta Inn. Many of the hotel rooms have direct views of the proposed school grounds. Hotel guests would also have easy access to walk near the school grounds and parking lots.

The Crescent Place buildings 3 and 4 were designed and built for commercial use in 1974 and 1983, respectively. Maple Place School was designed and built to be a school building in 1966. Per the Oceanport Board of Education presentation, the Maple Place School “has surpassed its recommended 50-year life expectancy”. Maple Place students should not be relocated from their school building to 44-year old and 35-year old commercial buildings.

The Board of Education’s proposed plan will result in a loss of school facilities. The schools currently have two gymnasiums and two cafeterias. The Crescent Place PK-8 school plan allows for only one gymnasium and one cafetorium for the 579 elementary & middle school students to share. This will reduce gymnasium space and availability for recreational sports teams.

There are several issues with the Crescent Place building property. There is a creek on the property that floods the parking lot and roads under certain weather conditions. There are high voltage power lines located on the property. There are no sidewalks on the roads leading to and from the school causing a safety issue for the few students who will be able to walk to school. Highway 36, one of the busiest roads in Monmouth County, is located less than 1000 feet from the Crescent Place building site. The Crescent Place site also has a questionable environmental history and will require expensive environmental testing. There are reports that previous building occupants used dangerous chemicals as well as a concern about possible lead contamination. Most students will require busing to this location, increasing transportation costs.

Moving the Oceanport schools to the Crescent Place site will change the town of Oceanport as we know it. The negative impact these changes will have on the town and its residents cannot be known. The Board of Education’s plan to sell Wolf Hill School and Maple Place School creates an uncertainty of what will become of those properties. We cannot predict who will buy the properties, what will be done with them, or the impact it will have on the community.

Retrofitting schools from old commercial buildings on an undesirable property on the edge of town is NOT the best option available. This option exposes Oceanport students and staff to certain environmental and safety risks that they would not face in the current school locations. We believe that the Board of Education has a responsibility to manage these risks and make decisions that diminish risks to Oceanport students and staff. By putting Oceanport schools in a questionable geographical and ecological area, with direct access to a racetrack, a hotel, an office park, and a busy highway, we are increasing the risk factors tremendously.

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. 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, weencourage the Oceanport Board of Education to choose an option that minimizes the negative impacts on ourtown & does not expose the students and staff to unnecessary safety and environmental risks.

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