Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday signed a law creating a new authority to oversee redevelopment at Fort Monmouth, the 1,127-acre base that straddles Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls in central New Jersey.
"We now have to look at it as an opportunity to bring new economic growth and jobs to the region," Christie said after signing the law. He lamented the 2005 decision to close the base as "a mistake" by the federal government.
Fort Monmouth has been a mainstay of the state economy since 1917. It specializes in military communications and electronics research, and the governor said plans for the base must include new technology jobs.
The base is to close next year as part of a series of base closings and realignments nationwide.
Most of Fort Monmouth's military operations will be moved to Aberdeen, Md., as well as some of its 5,000 civilian jobs. Nearly all of the base employees are civilians.
The new authority, called the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, replaces a similarly named planning authority that then-Gov. Jon Corzine created in 2006. The old authority was dissolved after developing a blueprint for redevelopment.
The new authority will have broad powers to undertake projects, including adopting guidelines and land use regulations for utilities, streets and infrastructure needed to redevelop the site.
Like its predecessor agency, the new authority will have representatives of town and county governments as well as appointees from the governor's office.