OCEANPORT – A humble, yet sturdy veterans’ memorial has been erected at the newly opened East Gate Park, an open-space of manicured lawns, pedestrian pathways and gardens on former Fort Monmouth land.
The memorial and park pay homage to the history of Fort Monmouth - which opened in 1917 as a U.S. Signal Corps base, and closed in 2011, a victim of the Base Realignment and Closure Act.
The act created the framework by which the U.S. closed hundreds of military installations in the post-Cold War era.
East Gate Park is at the center of East Gate Oceanport, rows of red brick townhomes, and duplexes that are refurbished officer homes and part of the fort’s second life in the private sector.
The developer of East Gate Oceanport is RPM Development. The group collaborated with veterans, Fort Monmouth’s economic redevelopment team, Palermo Edwards Architecture and Design 446 on the memorial and park.
“They bridged the folks that used to live and work here with the folk who live and work here now,” said retired Lt. Colonel John E. Occhipinti at a well-attended dedication for the memorial last week.
Occhipinti who served at the fort from 1999 to 2003, and later oversaw the fort’s closing as director for plans, training, mobilization and training.
The memorial is made of solid granite cap and base with a brick pier. The applied cast metal plaque pays homage to the men and women who served at Fort Monmouth.
“The closure was devastating. But as we move on, at the end of the day, we cannot forget our veterans,” Freehold Director Thomas A. Arnone said.