Rep. Pallone Calls for Urgency in Reopening Sandy Hook
WASHINGTON DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent a letter to National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis yesterday urging that the agency provide adequate resources to Sandy Hook as it recovers and rebuilds from the devastating impact of Superstorm Sandy. Sandy Hook’s infrastructure suffered critical damage from the storm, and Pallone requested that the park receive the Park Service’s full support to rebuild in time for the summer season.
Sandy Hook draws more than two million visitors each year to its public beaches and also is a driver of the local economy. Nearby stores, restaurants and hotels depend on constant tourism to Sandy Hook to stay profitable. In addition, the research centers located on Sandy Hook are large local employers and provide important insights to the regional marine environment.
“Sandy Hook is one of our area’s true natural treasures. Not only is important for its pristine environment, it also drives our local economy by attracting tourists,” stated Pallone. “When I visited Sandy Hook this past month I witnessed infrastructure in bad shape, including significant damage to Park Service facilities, major sand loss, and roads and bike paths undermined. Despite the damage, I am confident that with the full support of the National Park Service we can rebuild Sandy Hook so it is open by shore season.”
Sandy Hook, which is located in the Sixth Congressional District, is a unit of Gateway National Recreation Area and falls under the National Park Service’s jurisdiction. In the letter, Pallone specifically requested that NPS provide a detailed plan explaining how the Park Service plans to restore operations. He also asked for a report on whether Sandy Hook would be able to grant access on a rolling basis to parts of the park as they are restored.
“Now, more than ever, New Jersey needs the economic benefit that Sandy Hook provides. I call on the National Park Service to do everything within its power to ensure that Sandy Hook is operational as soon as possible and certainly by summer for visitors to enjoy,” added Pallone.
The Letter is below:
December 6, 2012
Director Jon Jarvis
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Director Jarvis:
I am writing to highlight my concerns and offer my support in the recovery operations ongoing at Sandy Hook, a unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Sandy Hook has been and continues to be a vital part of the community along the New Jersey shore and attracts millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately, Sandy Hook suffered severe damage as a result of Superstorm Sandy and its National Park Service infrastructure requires substantial repair and replacement.
It is important that Sandy Hook receive the full support of the National Park Service. Located at Sandy Hook are public beaches, a restaurant, non-profit organizations, a marine science school, a NOAA laboratory, a Coast Guard station, the homes of National Park Service employees and Fort Hancock, which is listed as a National Historic Landmark. These are just some of the important aspects of Sandy Hook. Equally important are the opportunities for recreation and enjoyment of the natural environment that the park provides, which cannot be quantified.
Sandy Hook is also critical for local businesses and the local economy. Many local stores, restaurants and hotels rely on frequent travel to Sandy Hook throughout the year and in particular during the summer. The National Park Service often cites the economic benefits of historical and environmental preservation and I believe Sandy Hook is a prime example of the type of economic and social benefits that a national park can provide. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the National Park Service directs all of the necessary resources and funds at its disposal towards the recovery efforts.
Recent press reports have indicated that Sandy Hook may remain closed this coming summer. The National Park Service must do everything within its power to ensure that this is not the case. The negative consequences that such a closure would have for the local community, businesses and economic recovery would be considerable. Now more than ever, New Jersey needs the economic benefits that Sandy Hook provides.
Considering all of these concerns, I urge you to give Sandy Hook your personal attention and provide as much support as is necessary to allow regular operations to resume as soon as possible. The employees, organizations and businesses as well as well as the millions that visit the park each year depend on an efficient and successful recovery.
As a member of the Natural Resources Committee with jurisdiction over the National Park Service and the representative of the congressional district which includes Sandy Hook, I request that you keep me informed as to the progress of restoring the park. In response to my letter I request that you provide me with a detailed plan explaining how the National Park Service plans to restore operations, return organizations and park employees to their buildings and homes and provide access to the park as soon as possible. I further request that you report on whether the park will be able to begin granting access on a rolling basis to parts of the park that are restored and that can be reopened.
Thank you for your attention on this matter.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress
Cc: Linda Canzanelli, Superintendent, Gateway National Recreation Area