Fort Hancock Virtual Meeting Q and A

Q&A Workshop Meeting – November 23, 2020

Gateway National Recreation Area hosted a virtual meeting on November 23, 2020 to discuss a proposal submitted to renovate historic properties in Sandy Hook’s Fort Hancock. Many questions were raised during this workshop. This summary attempts to answer the questions most frequently asked and, to the extent possible, address issues related to topics raised during the meeting.

Stewardship over the cultural and environmental resources in the people’s parks is arguably the most enduring and critical of mission of the NPS. Fulfilling that responsibility is the highest priority facing park leadership at Gateway’s Sandy Hook site. Park leadership is committed to find ways to preserve the iconic, historic buildings at Fort Hancock while maintaining careful management of the important natural resources of the site.

Leasing the buildings is among the best options the park has to preserve and protect these structures. For well over a decade unoccupied buildings have suffered major structural damage and one case, a catastrophic collapse of one of the largest buildings in the Fort Hancock National Historic Landmark. Occupancy of the buildings is the best way to maintain these historic artifacts. NPS has repeatedly sought lease proposals from individuals, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, leaders of arts and cultural organizations and other private entities. However, one of the lessons of the past seven years has been that because the buildings are so deteriorated, fixing them costs more than these entities can afford. Successful proposals have been primarily based on revenue models that can support the high level of investment that is needed. These models have proven successful at other parks across the country. Fort Hancock presents some special challenges, yet a successful leasing program will offer benefit not only to those who chose to occupy and maintain these buildings but also enhance and protect the park for the more than 2 million visitors who value its historic, ecological and recreational resources. By leveraging private investment in service of park goals, public dollars can go further and accomplish more.

More than 200 people joined the workshop on November 23, and the park is grateful to all those who contributed to the conversation. Additional comments and questions are welcome, whether you were able to join the meeting, or just want to react to what was said.

To submit further questions or comments please send them to


Is every occupant required to pay fair market value rent?

Yes. All lessees are required to pay fair market value rent in accordance with applicable law and regulation. However, the cost of improvements (which must be approved by NPS) may be offset against fair market value rent.


What is the Great American Outdoors Act?

The Great America Outdoors Act passed in the summer of 2020 provides five-year funding to help address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Indian Education. More information can be found here: Great American Outdoors Act

Why can’t the maintenance backlog be supported by public resources appropriately at the national level, using public funds?

The maintenance backlog at Sandy Hook is estimated above $100 million. There is not sufficient funding to cover all of these needs, which include not only buildings but the infrastructure that supports them, such as roads and utilities and other systems. Furthermore, even if there was a great enough federal investment made available to rehabilitate the historic structures at Sandy Hook, the NPS would still be looking to lease the buildings to keep them occupied. An empty building quickly deteriorates; leasing is a primary way of accomplishing the park’s historic preservation goals for the long-term by ensuring continued investment into the buildings’ maintenance.

Lillian Bury mentioned that it took $14 million to restore two buildings. The entire Stillman project is $28 million. Are they underestimating the potential cost?

The Stillman proposal as submitted, presents a conceptual plan for rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of multiple buildings at Fort Hancock.The next stage for this proposal involves production of detailed architectural drawings that would specify how buildings would be configured for residential uses. This stage also includes a detailed review by NPS and New Jersey’s state historic preservation officials, of the suitability of the designs and compliance with strict historic preservation standards. Work will proceed only after issues revealed during this review have been resolved. The projected costs will be further defined after the detailed construction plans proceed through the next steps.


How do people purchase these homes for residential use?

The National Park Service has no legal authority to sell NPS lands or facilities. NPS may, however, lease land or facilities for a period of up to 60 years in accordance with applicable law and regulations which can be found here:

Laws: 54 USC 102102 (formerly 16 USC 1a-2(k)) and 54 USC 306121 (formerly 16 USC 470 h-3):
Regulations: 36 CFR Chapter 1, Part 18:

Have any other federal facilities been leased to the public?

Yes. During the meeting we shared examples of some federal facilities which have been leased. The NPS has a nation-wide leasing program in place. More information can be found here: Leasing Opportunities. Additionally, other buildings at Sandy Hook have already been leased, including the six we’ve leased under this program, Sandy Hook Childcare Center, American Littoral Society NOAA, MAST – all structures, New Jersey SeaGrant Consortium.

Would residents of these units have a voice in how Gateway manages Sandy Hook?

No. Facility occupants are required to abide by park rules and regulations as well as park management determinations. These requirements are laid out in their lease terms. Park management has an obligation to preserve and protect the natural and historic resources for the general public and provide for educational (natural and historic) and recreational opportunities for visitors.This mission is embedded in law and will continue to be the foundation of management decisions.

I'm a real estate broker...Do you cooperate with agents?

NPS does not have the legal authority to pay realtor’s commission. However, NPS welcomes inquiries from real estate professionals who may have the opportunity to connect potential lessees with park officials.

Could Sandy Hook be developed like the Presidio in San Francisco?

Yes, however it would require special legislation and funding similar to that upon which the Presidio Trust was established (Presidio Trust). There are significant differences in scale and scope between the Presidio and Fort Hancock projects. However, lessons learned about implementation of successful leasing programs at these and other park sites are instructive and will inform best practices as the projects proceed.

Fort Monmouth has been divided into pieces and sold, is this an option for Sandy Hook?

No. Sandy Hook is part of a National Park. Unlike the Department of Defense (DoD), the NPS goal at Sandy Hook is not to divest these historic structures from federal ownership, but rather to ensure their preservation into the foreseeable future for the benefit of our nation at large. This is the NPS mission as codified in law and the NPS Organic Act. Fort Monmouth was only able to be “sold” through the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005 – a one-time congressional authorization specific to DoD.

Would the economic benefit stay in Sandy Hook or would the lease payments flow to other projects in Gateway and/or other NPS uses?

The leasing revenue may be allocated for use throughout Gateway for rehabilitation and preservation, however it is anticipated that buildings and infrastructure at Sandy Hook will be principal beneficiaries.

If this Stillman proposal has been in the works for so long, why is it that it has just been brought to the attention of so many at this late date?

The proposal was received in late 2019 and was made public during the February 2020 Federal Advisory Committee meeting. Meeting 35: February 28, 2020 – Fort Hancock 21st Century

Once an approval has been given and a lease has been signed, what is the time period for the rehabilitation and “adaptive reuse” of the various buildings?

It varies. The park makes efforts to align lease execution with the completion of compliance review, which includes consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and completion of requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act. Once that is properly documented, the lessee is required to obtain permits from Middletown Township or other written notices to proceed with construction.

Will the various structures then be turned over to the developer and no longer be under the ownership of the NPS?

No. The buildings will continue to be owned by the United States of America. The lessee will have a temporary right of occupancy based on the length of the lease. The applicable law does not allow for fee conveyance but it does allow for competitive lease renewals. The NPS will always maintain oversight and provide review and approval of all actions related to these facilities’ upkeep and use.


Where are arts in these plans that would create and provide spaces for local artists?

The park welcomes all proposals, including those addressing space for local artists. However, while one building has been successfully leased for such use, the level of investment needed for the structures as well as the complexity of historic rehabilitation projects have been challenging. That said, some buildings which are less-suited to residential or commercial uses may be ideal for exploration as incubators for large and small-scale artistic projects and may be especially well-suited for uses requiring larger-scale integrative programs supporting science, technology, engineering arts and mathematics. Combined with the ongoing science and education efforts already underway at the Marine Academy for Science and Technology, New Jersey Sea Grant, the American Littoral Society, Clean Ocean Action and the James J. Howard NOAA laboratory for marine sciences, arts programs would be an especially good fit with these ongoing programs.

How does the liquor licensing work when the park (beaches, campgrounds) do not allow alcohol? Only on premises consumption?

Consumption of alcohol will be limited to designated locations such as bars, restaurants, and event spaces.

Will any of the land around the buildings become off-limits to non-residents?

Public access will not be diminished or decreased as a result of the leasing program. Areas that are open to the public now will continue being open to the public once a lease is executed. This includes the outdoor areas surrounding the buildings. The public does not currently have access to the interior of the unoccupied structures being offered for lease, and thus will not lose any access by virtue of them being leased. Rehabilitated and repaired buildings will serve to enhance visitor experiences to the site and opportunities to better understand the historic context of Fort Hancock. The park will continue to offer visitor experiences such as the History House, one of the Officers Row houses that is decorated in period furnishings and is open to the public to give visitors a window into what life was like at Fort Hancock in its period of greatest activity - the early 1940s.

Does this proposal include anything other than apartments and a convenience store?

The proposal is at the very initial conceptual stage. Details regarding specific use are generally finalized in the next stage of design, which has not happened yet.

How is this RFP different from past agreements with non-profits? Why are you so sure the buildings will be improved now?

In the past, various legal authorizations were issued for use of government land and facilities. However, as the result of audits conducted throughout the NPS, system-wide use and management of building use authorization has been modified. The NPS leasing authority is the primary mechanism by which third parties may utilize government lands and facilities. Leases require fair market value rent and will contain requirements to rehabilitate and adaptively re-use the buildings in accordance with the Request for Proposals (RFP). Interested parties should submit a response to the RFP if they are interested in use of any buildings. Under these authorities, the NPS is empowered to negotiate directly with non-profits and educational institutions for specific facilities where there are some provisions that are not available to for profit entities.

Can new construction take place?

Construction of new buildings or structures is prohibited absent the NPS Director’s written approval for minor additions, buildings, or structures determined to be necessary for support of authorized activities and otherwise consistent with use of the park area and its historic setting.

Would it be possible to adopt the NY Governors Island model for their rows of houses, with yearly leases to nonprofits for open-to-the-public exhibits, also requiring their sweat equity to maintain and improve the buildings?

Unlike the facilities at Governor’s Island, none of the buildings at Sandy Hook can be immediately occupied in their current condition. All require rehabilitation. Non-profit organizations are free to submit proposals for use and occupancy of the buildings. The cost of the improvements made to the historic structures are generally able to be offset against rent.

Will the developer create a closed (fenced in area) or open community (current open spaces around Fort Hancock Historic Post area) around the various buildings that would be reconstructed?

The grounds will remain open to the public. However, we do anticipate safety fencing will be erected during construction. Once construction is complete, the safety fencing will be removed, and the area will continue to be accessible to the public. Public access will not be diminished or decreased as a result of the leasing program. Rehabilitated and repaired buildings will serve to enhance visitor experiences to the site and opportunities to better understand the historic context of Fort Hancock.

Will all current lands and pathways remain public in any agreement with developers?

Public access will remain unchanged for the grounds around the buildings. In regards to the interiors of the buildings, public access will increase as a result of some of them being used for visitor services and amenities, such as a deli or restaurant.

Could buildings like the theater be restored to what it once was?

The NPS has reserved the theater for park purposes. A project for some initial rehabilitation work is underway, but additional investment will be needed before the building is able to be used.

Has anyone ever approached the park system with a proposal for a residential facility for adults with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities? I think the buildings lend themselves to intentional community living with room for staff and access to services.

In the past, we have worked with many non-profit and educational organizations, including but not limited to: Aids Research Foundation for Children (ARFC), Affordable Housing Alliance, Naturebridge, other national hostel and outdoor camping organizations, Habitat for Humanity, Rutgers Marine Lab, Brookdale, Visiting Nurses Association, substance abuse rehabilitation organizations, and Middletown Township. Many organizations have struggled to acquire the resources necessary to successfully rehabilitate the structures for the purposed they have identified. The park and the Fort Hancock advisory committee remain supportive of efforts from organizations like these that would expand access and diversity to the park and their commitment to building a robust and vibrant new community at Fort Hancock.

Is there not an option to create more museums or history-based buildings, similar to the history house?

Yes. The park welcomes proposals for such use by outside entities. In terms of the NPS creating and running more museums, the NPS already leads or works with partners to provide tours and programming at the Fort Hancock Museum, as well as historic interpretation (educational) programs throughout the park. The park and various partners manage or provide tours of the History House, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Keeper’s Quarters, and Visitor Center, various batteries and fortifications structures, as well as the many unique and special natural resources throughout the park.

What are the rights of those residents who would occupy the residences?

Facility occupants will have the right to use and occupy the buildings for the purposes identified in their lease. Otherwise, the facility occupants’ access to the property is the same as the general public.

Will there be an opportunity for underprivileged to use these units during the summer?

NPS does not dictate the rates that a lessee charges its guests. Those will be identified by any future lessee. The NPS is open to exploring opportunities with potential lease holders regarding programs that would provide diversity of use and more affordable opportunities for visitors from all cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds to spend time in this iconic national park.

Why have these buildings not been offered up to be used by the Parks Department with revenue going back to Sandy Hook? Environmental groups or universities?

The park welcomes proposals from environmental organizations, educational institutions, and local units of government. In the past, we have worked with many such organizations and entities, in many cases actively soliciting proposals from the following: Monmouth University, Aids Research Foundation for Children (ARFC), Affordable Housing Alliance, Naturebridge, other national hostel and outdoor camping organizations, Habitat for Humanity, Rutgers University, Brookdale, Visiting Nurses Association, substance abuse rehabilitation organizations, and Middletown Township. Efforts by such entities or organizations to utilize historic structures in Sandy Hook were not pursued because for them, the costs to rehabilitate the structures exceeded available resources.

How will this project impact the parade ground and surrounding areas?

The parade ground and surrounding areas will be open for public access as they are now.

What about Congressman Pallone's statement that residences within NPS parks, are nothing but problematic - referring to issues with Cape Cod National Seashore?

The park is not aware of such issues and recommends review of the following report:
Historic Leasing in the National Park System- 2013 National Trust for Historic Preservation Report-

Why does NPS want all remaining buildings, why not a more limited proposal?

Previous efforts to address the buildings on an individual basis have had very limited success. The concept offered in the Stillman proposal is designed to take advantage of the economies of scale associated with offering multiple leasing opportunities to a wide range of potential residents. Only after more detailed design and architectural drawings are completed and approved by park and state historic preservation officials will it be clear whether a smaller pilot-scale demonstration will be needed to inform the larger conceptual initiative identified in the current proposal.

Can these homes be renovated and then used as “hotels”?

Stillman welcomes proposals from applicants interested in providing short term lodging as well as longer-term residential use.

Why not make it a NJ destination for Culture and Education?

The NPS welcomes proposals for such use.

Are the developers really going to be ok with 200 teenagers from MAST marching in their backyards or in front of their restaurants during drill team practice?

The park determines uses appropriate for park lands and facilities. We do not anticipate any change in MAST’s use of lands and facilities at Sandy Hook.

Would there be a condo/ mandatory rental association so the Park would have true oversight of the community with by-laws and rules of engagement that could be very strict to abide by and allow for legal action if necessary?

No, the Park Service maintains oversight and authority, and will continue to do so, of all activities that occur in the park. There are park rules and regulations in place, by which all visitors or facility occupants must abide.

For the past seven years, how have we discouraged the smaller investors willing to work with the leasing program? What were the reasons they didn't move forward on their proposals?

All of the current lessees are “small investors.” Building 53 - the Post Exchange is open for business. Building 21 – the Duplex Officer’s Home is available for long and short-term rental. Rehabilitation of Building 52 – Duplex Sergeant’s Family Quarters is well underway and will be offered for long and short term rentals. Other prior efforts to restore buildings on Officers Row failed due the cost of rehabilitation and the added challenge of a large and complex historic rehabilitation project.


How will these proposals impact access of the public to areas of Sandy Hook?

The park anticipates an increase in the public’s access as the buildings will be rehabilitated to allow safe access to the area. Many of the areas are currently a hazard and are fenced off to protect the public from falling debris from the severely deteriorated structures.

Will there be a map published with what the “full” public access looks like prior to any projects moving ahead?

Public access to the area will remain the same.


Where will residents park?

Residents will park in driveways associated with the buildings. Otherwise, parking is available in public lots. The park recognizes that some additional parking may be needed and will be assessing this issue.

If the project proposes that additional parking spaces be paved, what natural area will be destroyed to create these parking spaces?

The park has an obligation to preserve and protect park lands, including the natural resources they contain. Any modification requires compliance review to ensure there are no unacceptable impacts. From the early 1980s into the present the park has removed various structures at Sandy Hook to include over 100 temporary World War II wooden buildings and associated parking areas through the Formerly Used Defense Sites (NPS) programs. The park may consider utilizing a fraction of those areas for parking related use, and if so would strive to incorporate environmentally compatible designs (such as permeable or semi-permeable surfaces). The 2014 Park General Management Plan identifies planning zones. The leasing program will be developed within the framework of the Management Plan planning zones. The Sandy Hook leasing program will occur within the Historic zone. No development will occur with the Natural Zone or Sensitive Resource FUDS as a result of this project proposal.

What are the water quality implications of expanding the parking?

The park is responsible for maintaining its own well for freshwater distribution and has a new plant providing high-quality wastewater treatment. The park currently has sufficient capacity to support more than two million visitors per year at Sandy Hook in terms of water, wastewater and runoff management. While the addition of a number of residential units will place additional demands on this infrastructure, park engineers are confident that the demand will be well within their capacity to supply safe and reliable water resources.

How many parking spaces will be allotted per housing unit?

Residents will be allowed to park in driveways associated with the buildings. Otherwise, parking is available in public lots. The park recognizes that some additional parking may be needed and will be assessing this issue based upon previous parking studies.

Will garages and driveways be constructed?

Existing garages and driveways may be utilized once rehabilitated.

Will residential parking spaces detract from public parking?

Residents will park in driveways associated with the buildings. Otherwise, parking is available in public lots. The park recognizes that some additional parking may be needed and will be assessing this issue.


In the height of summer season, how will 90+ residents get to and from their homes when lines to the Park already stretch into Highlands?

The residents will have to account for traffic and congestion much like shore area residents do once summer arrives. However, the park is currently evaluating an express lane that could serve staff, partners, season pass holders, and leaseholders.

How will local traffic be impacted?

The park will have to undertake compliance review to ensure there are no unacceptable impacts. As part of this review, Subzone will determine whether any additional studies will be required. However, the impact to traffic by residents or other leaseholder uses is anticipated to be minimal in comparison to that generated by beach visitors.

Would the developer be required to address regional impacts and existing issues such as traffic congestion?

The park will have to undertake compliance review to ensure there are no unacceptable impacts. As part of this review, NPS will determine whether any additional studies will be required.


What is the effluent discharge estimated for the proposed density of 93 residential units?

The volume would need to be to be determined. However, the sewage treatment facility, which is only a few years old, was built to handle the beaches at capacity as well as the Main Post (Historic Post) area and the Coast Guard area that once included a large housing compound.

Residential units also imply an increase in mail delivery and food delivery services. This point also includes the use of ride hailing services. What are the logistics for mail and package deliveries?

Mail and other package delivery services arrive daily at Sandy Hook. These and other services, such as food delivery and ride share services like NPS will have to enter through the front gate no differently than the public.

How will food delivery services enter Sandy Hook?

Through the only entrance at the south end of the park or from internal operators located with Sandy Hook.

How will the developer be held accountable to assist with or fund park improvements (i.e., infrastructure, other needs)?

Lessees are required to contribute towards the actual cost of utility infrastructure repair, maintenance, and improvements. Additionally, the park anticipates instituting a Common Area Maintenance charge to defray the cost of services provided to lessees. How those cost are apportioned is currently under review and will be subject to periodic review.

What considerations are being made for managing litter during construction due to often windy conditions at Sandy Hook, as well as for residents’ garbage and recycling collection methods?

At a minimum, NPS will consider use of construction or snow fencing, or temporary chain link to secure the areas during construction and to catch any windblown debris.

What NPS management rules would the developer be required to follow--those set forth by stormwater Township?

NPS is required to follow the EPA guidelines for stormwater management: Stormwater Management for Federal Facilities.

How will the National Park Service ensure that the sewer and stormwater infrastructure is adequate and will be maintained should this redevelopment plan and long-term residential community move forward?

The sanitary sewer plant, rebuilt within the past few years, has the capacity to accommodate millions of visitors including any additional usage needs at Fort Hancock Historic Post area. The sewage transmission infrastructure, as well as the stormwater infrastructure, require improvement.

What happens to their trash and sewage?

Trash is currently collected for facility occupants by NPS. Sewage is treated and processed at the self-contained Sandy Hook Sewer Plant.

How have the 93 estimated residential units been calculated as impacting the existing onsite wastewater management plan/facility?

The volume is to be determined; however, the sewage treatment facility, which is only a few years old, was built to handle the beaches at capacity as well as the Historic Post area and the Coast Guard area.

The offsite improvements for infrastructure roads etc. will experience additional stress... will the developer address this or will this be left to the taxpayers?

Typically, NPS requires recovery of costs in connection with use of park lands and facilities. Additionally, the park anticipates instituting a Common Area Maintenance charge to defray the cost of services provided to lessees.

Who will be responsible for sewer and water services?

The NPS will continue to manage those utilities.

What other infrastructure would need to be built to sustain such a significant increase in the Permanent population at that of the end of the Hook? An expanded wastewater treatment plant or trash processing center?

The park has sufficient capacity for both wastewater treatment, potable water, and for trash collection/disposal.


Will Middletown support of Sandy Hook increase as a result of residential units?

Middletown is responsible for the majority of service typically associated with a municipality. Middletown Township would continue to provide Sandy Hook residence with back up emergency services, schools, library and election services. The Township has seats on the Federal Advisory Committee and has been vocal in support of these efforts and offering effective recommendations as the leasing program has moved forward.

Does the income derived go to both Middletown, Monmouth County and NPS?

Middletown Township and Monmouth County will receive tax revenue. NPS may receive leasing revenue (if the lessees’ fair market value rent exceeds their investments into the preservation of the buildings, which is used to offset that rent), which will be dedicated to preservation and management of structures and related components. Additionally, the park anticipates instituting a Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charge to defray the cost of services provided to lessees by the Federal Government (NPS).

Which town would the people who occupy the residential units live in? Would they have to pay local taxes? How does that work?

Middletown Township. Tax rates are determined by Middletown Township and Monmouth County.


How will the tax base be established for Middletown & Monmouth County be implemented since these are considered
Federal properties?

The Monmouth County Tax Assessor has assessed the buildings at Sandy Hook. More information can be found here: Monmouth County Taxes .

How will local taxes be collected?

Middletown Township is responsible for tax collection.


Where will the children in these residences go to school and how will they get there?

Sandy Hook is served by the Middletown School District.


Will this site get insurance given the previous impact from Superstorm Sandy?

Flood Insurance is available through FEMA: FEMA Flood Insurance. Current lessees have been able to obtain flood insurance.


What is “compliance review?”

The park performs a review on all proposed projects to ensure they are in compliance with the parks mission and all laws, regulations and policies under which the park operates. Some of the most prominent laws include:

  • The National Park Service Organic Act outlines the mission of the NPS, which includes the preservation of natural and historic resources as well as providing for visitor enjoyment.
  • The enabling legislation of Gateway National Recreation Area, which outlines the mission and purpose of the park. It includes the language, “In the Sandy Hook and Staten Island Units, the Secretary shall inventory and evaluate all sites and structures having present and potential historical, cultural, or architectural significance and shall provide for appropriate programs for the preservation, restoration, interpretation, and utilization of them.”
  • The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) ensures informed decisions that help preserve park resources and values – both natural and cultural. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess significant consequences of proposed actions on the natural and built environment and to inform the public about their decsion making.
  • Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires the NPS to take into account the effect its actions have on historic properties included in, or eligible for inclusion in, the National Register.

Sandy Hook is a migratory path with endangered nesting shorebirds. How will 90 residences and the traffic that goes along with it impact this important natural feature?

The park is required to consider impacts to natural and cultural resources. The park will evaluate the full range of potential project impacts through compliance review to determine whether there are any significant impacts in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. However, in embarking on a leasing program, the park considered that fact that the Main Post Area of Fort Hancock (the “Historic Post”) is a relatively small section within the fort (peninsula), and even if hundreds of additional daily visits were generated by lease activities, these would potentially have minor impacts in the context of the thousands of daily beach and other recreational visitors to the park (the overall “Fort Hancock” historic landmark district area encompasses the entire peninsula).

What standards have to be met?

The buildings must be rehabilitated in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Structures. More information about those standards can be found here: Four Approaches to the Treatment of Historic Properties

How many of the residential buildings are actually designated on the national historic register?

The Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark covers the entire peninsula. Landmarks, Monuments and Memorials are the highest level of national historic designation, above listing on the National Register. All of the buildings identified in the RFP are designated historic structures and contribute to the Landmark designation. They are designated “Fundamental Resources” of the National Landmark District. More information can be found here:
Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark.This page includes a link to the landmark designation document that includes a detailed description of the landmark structures.

How will the park address the added traffic, residents, and related increase in law enforcement incidents which are already strained during the summer months?

The anticipated increase in the number of residents is minimal in comparison to the millions of visitors to the Sandy Hook unit annually. The park is required to undertake compliance review to determine whether there are any unacceptable impacts from proposed undertakings.

What happens when residents can walk about Sandy Hook at night any time they want, anywhere they want?

The park is closed at night except to residents, employees who work outside of typical business hours, park partners, and by permit for campers and fishermen. Anyone legally present on Sandy Hook at night is still required to follow all rules and regulations. Residents will not be able to go anywhere they want. Areas of the park that are closed to the public will also be closed to residents. Law enforcement is on duty and present 24/7.

Has the park considered the impact of humans living there full time and any associated impact wildlife and ecosystems?

The park is required to consider impacts to natural and cultural resources. The park will undertake compliance review to determine whether there are any unacceptable impacts in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other relevant laws, regulations and policies.

Concerning more restaurants, shops, businesses, residents. They would be using more lights at nighttime. This would be very detrimental to bird migration. Knowing that this is a major migration path for birds, won’t this have a negative impact on species that are struggling for survival?

The park is required to consider impacts to natural and cultural resources. The park will undertake compliance review to determine whether there are any unacceptable impacts in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies, which include polices regarding Dark Skies. More information about appropriate outdoor lighting usage and following best management can be found here: Managing Lightscapes.

Given the dire condition of the buildings why isn’t the park considering and fast-tracking any reasonable proposal?

The NPS and the Federal Advisory Committee have focused their efforts to move the process forward while ensuring full due diligence and public transparency, elements that take time, but which are deemed essential to the success of any effort at Sandy Hook. That success also depends upon “beating the clock” in regards to the rapid deterioration of the buildings.

Are the existing building footprints to be strictly maintained?

In most cases, the park will restrict additional development. However, the park is permitted to authorize minor additions, buildings, and/or structures determined necessary to support the use. For instance, such considerations may apply to make buildings accessible under Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

Are all the Officers Row buildings historically significant? Why?

Yes. It is part of the National Park Service mission and in the park’s legislation to preserve these buildings, with even greater emphasis on the importance of this given by the addition of the National Historic Landmark designation, which covers all of the buildings on the RFP. More information can be found here: Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark.

Has it been considered that strategic preservation take place at the most historically interesting and reusable buildings, while allowing the others to be demolished or to decay?

All the buildings identified in the RFP are designated historic structures and are not only significant individually, but as part of a cultural landscape. Officers’ Row buildings and the Parade Ground are fundamental park resources. Fundamental resources are those that are critical to achieving the park’s purpose and maintaining its significance. The Sandy Hook Parade Ground, including Officers’ Row and barracks, are fundamental park resources. The park must consider impacts to the project as well as impacts to the cultural landscape, the overall historic district - including “intangible” attributes. Loss of any buildings along Officers’ Row would negatively impact the historical integrity and visitor experience of this landscape.

Have you involved either the National Trust for Historic Preservation or Preservation New Jersey?

The park works closely with The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has been very supportive of the leasing effort at Sandy Hook, even including it as a National Trust case study on leasing in the NPS. The park has not been engaged with Preservation New Jersey but we welcome their participation.

Should there be a full environmental impact study before proceeding further?

The park will have to undertake compliance review to ensure there are no significant impacts. As part of this review, NPS will determine whether any additional studies will be required, and what level of compliance would be appropriate.

Could the buildings be removed and be replaced with native gardens?

The NPS is required to preserve and maintain both natural,cultural and recreational resources, striking an appropriate balance if and where those goals conflict. This is clearly outlined in law and policy. Given the historic status of these buildings and the National Historic Landmark designation, demolishing all of them would be contrary to law, the park purpose, and the mission of the National Park Service.

Mr. Stillman said, the interiors will not be restored, but will be modernized. What will the public gain from the site merely by looking at buildings when the true history of the site will be destroyed?

All lessees are required to follow the Department of Interior Secretary’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Structures. The rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of the buildings is important to provide a sense a place, a sense of history, and to provide visitors with a sense of same. Each building has unique character defining features (interior and exterior) that have been professionally documented. The preservation of those character defining features will be required unless they have been damaged beyond repair or were removed over previous decades of occupancy.


Has the park considered the sea level rise issue as well as impacts similar to hurricane Sandy?

Yes. Facility occupants must comply with FEMA flood hazard and risk data to help guide mitigation actions. Additionally, lessees must comply with NPS guidelines for climate change design considerations.

If a few hundred people were living here, wouldn't large seawalls eventually be needed (completely surrounding these residences) for protection during strong nor'easters?

There are seawalls already in place – they have been here for over 120 years; however they are deteriorated and in need of rehabilitation. The park is in the process of undertaking major seawall repairs at Middletown Park and Sandy Hook that are funded for 2021. That project is necessary to protect park infrastructure and is independent of the leasing program.

What climate change Riis are being considered and will be required for development in flood-prone areas at Sandy Hook such as Fort Hancock Historic Post?

At the most basic level, the park requires elevation of all mechanical and electrical infrastructure in accordance with adaptions Base Flood Elevations plus 3’. FEMA also follows NPS guidance:Guidelines on Flood Adaptation for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings, Technical Preservation Services, National Park Service ( and Cultural Resources Climate Change Strategy

Has any account been taken of the impacts of climate change on this plan, for example seas are projected to rise between four and 6.4 feet by the end of this century in the area around Sandy Hook?

DOI is required to abide by mandates and policies pertaining to climate change and sea level rise. More information is available here: Sea Level Change. By law the maximum term on a lease is 60 years. For the public benefit of a restored historic landscape during that time horizon and the many visitors who will get to experience it, the agency believes the investment is justified.


Can Sandy Hook provide a public day use marina within the ferry area?

This topic has been discussed at several Federal Advisory Committee meetings. While the idea has not been discounted, it requires a tremendous amount of planning, studies on impacts to the natural resources, and permitting which are beyond the park’s capacity at this time.

Can Sandy Hook provide an area for a fishing or camping program?
Information about camping and fishing areas at Gateway can be found on these pages: Camping at Gateway and
Fishing at Gateway. Efforts are currently underway with support from the Sandy Hook Foundation to expand current camping opportunities to include sufficient space for group camping such as scouting groups and other community organizations.

Did water flood the first floors of these buildings during Sandy? If so, how deep?

None of the first floors of the Officers Row buildings flooded during NPS Sandy. Some of the basements were flooded, but due to use of limestone in the original construction the waters receded after a few days. Aside from the porches, overall the buildings in the Main Post Area of Fort Hancock (the “historic post” area) survived the hurricane without a great amount of additional damage. Most of their deterioration comes from lack of investment and occupancy over the past 45 years.


Will this project impact the Sandy Hook Child Care Center’s operations in any way?

It is not expected to impact operations at the Child Care Center with the possible exception of increasing their potential client base.

Will construction activities affect children’s access to any areas (often the children walk and play in the open space between the Officer Row structures)?

Though construction activities may result in temporary restrictions on access to the area, ultimately, the area will be safer and more accessible to the public.

What other partners are already at Fort Hancock?

Fort Hancock has numerous partners on-site including; Superstorm, Rutgers, MAST, American Littoral Society, Sandy Hook Foundation, New Jersey NOAA Consortium, NIKE-56 Veterans Association, Army Ground Forces Association, etc.


Where and when was this meeting advertised?

This specific meeting was advertised through a press release, SeaGrant blast, and social media. All of the 35 public meetings of the Fort Hancock 21email Century Advisory Committee have also been advertised with press releases and social media.

Why not use this area to teach architectural renovation and have college architect students come in and renovate?

Brookdale Community College students have done some amazing design work on this front. The materials they produced have been featured at Federal Advisory Committee meetings and used to generate interest and proposals for the buildings. Renovation projects are not usually funded through student programs offered by colleges and universities.

As plans are being drawn up, is the developer interested in the involvement of any of the local historical organizations, such as the Brookdale Township Historical Society, Middletown Township Historic Preservation Committee and Landmarks Commission, and Fort Hancock Museum?

NPS welcomes input from any interested organizations.

Have Sierra Club and Audubon been invited to speak?

The Federal Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public. The opportunity for public comment is always identified in the corresponding notices and agendas.


Will NPS be responsible for law and order or will Middletown Police patrol the new residential area?

NPS is the primary entity responsible for law enforcement at Sandy Hook, but has concurrent jurisdiction with state and local law enforcement agencies. NPS maintains a 24/7/365 law enforcement presence at Sandy Hook.

Who will respond if there is some type of emergency?

NPS is responsible for law enforcement, EMS and Fire at Sandy Hook. NPS also has agreements in place for mutual aid with the surrounding municipalities.

Last updated: April 4, 2024

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