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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Fall 2004 arrow New Jersey: Rehabilitation of Portions of Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook
New Jersey: Rehabilitation of Portions of Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook

Agency: National Park Service

As a military base, Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, reflected important developments in 19th- and 20th-century American defense. The National Historic Landmark was the site of the Nation’s first artillery proving ground in the 1870s, and was a location for NIKE surface-to-air missiles during the Cold War.

Today, a private developer with a 60-year lease on the property plans to redevelop 36 of the 100 historic buildings in the Fort Hancock Historic District for education, office, and hospitality uses. Such a public-private partnership for long-term preservation is envisioned in the Preserve America Executive Order.

The ACHP is helping to draft an agreement to resolve adverse effects to historic properties during the lease.

For nearly 200 years, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, was a strategic military base to protect New York City. In 1778, this peninsula near New York’s harbor served as a base for the British Royal Navy to maintain control of the city. During the War of 1812, the U.S. military occupied the promontory to avert a second attempt by the British to occupy New York.

Gun at Battery Granger, Fort Hancock, New Jersey (historic photo: NPS)



Gun at Battery Granger, Fort Hancock, New Jersey (historic photo: NPS)



By 1899, a new base at Sandy Hook—called Fort Hancock, in honor of Civil War General Winfield Scott Hancock—gradually developed into the most important of the complexes guarding the approaches to New York Harbor.

In the 1950s, the U.S. military installed NIKE surface-to-air missiles to protect the U.S. from possible Soviet air attacks. Finally, in 1974, the U.S. Army decommissioned the base, and Fort Hancock became part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, owned by the National Park Service (NPS).

In July 2004, NPS awarded a 60-year lease for 36 of the National Historic Landmark buildings to a private developer. Under the Fort Hancock Rehabilitation and Preservation Project, the company plans to rehabilitate the unused and deteriorating buildings for education, offices, and hospitality purposes.

The remaining 64 buildings will continue to be used by the National Park Service and its non-profit partners, including the Marine Academy of Science and Technology High School, the New Jersey Marine Science Consortium, the New Jersey Audubon Society, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries Laboratory.

Some organizations, such as Save Sandy Hook, are concerned about the fate of the historic properties under the long-term private lease.

NPS is drafting a Programmatic Agreement to ensure that it considers potential adverse effects on the historic properties with the project’s consulting parties, and that it resolves those adverse effects consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

The draft agreement provides for NPS oversight and State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) review of rehabilitation activities. Under the terms of the agreement, the developer will follow the stringent review process for Federal rehabilitation tax credits, whether or not it chooses to pursue such credits.

The ACHP is weighing in on the draft agreement, which is also being reviewed by Save Sandy Hook, Middletown Landmarks Commission, Monmouth County Historical Association, Sandy Hook Partners, and the New Jersey SHPO.

In May 2004, the ACHP informed NPS Director Fran Mainella that the ACHP would participate in the Section 106 process. In August 2004, New Jersey Environment Commissioner Bradley Campbell and U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. requested the ACHP to hold a public meeting on the Fort Hancock rehabilitation project.

In October 2004, the ACHP and the New Jersey SHPO co-hosted a public meeting with NPS at Fort Hancock. The meeting allowed the agencies to hear the interested public’s views of the measures to be included in the agreement.

NPS will accept written public comments on the proposed project until November 30, 2004. Once NPS, the ACHP, and the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Officer review the comments, they will revise the agreement as deemed necessary to include ongoing public participation and any other measures that are responsive to the comments.

Staff contact: Martha Catlin

Posted December 17, 2004

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