By Jay Cook |
LINCROFT – In the event another major disaster like 2012’s Super Storm Sandy strikes Monmouth County, two buildings on Brookdale Community College’s Lincroft campus will be a refuge for residents.
Thanks to federal grants, permanent emergency generators will soon be installed at the Robert J. Collins Arena, and also at the Warner Student Life Center, both on the campus’ southern edge. The college is accessible from Phalanx Road and County Road 520.
“In emergency situations, such as we saw after Super Storm Sandy, members of our community often need guidance, support and a safe place to go,” Brookdale president Maureen Murphy said in a statement to The Two River Times. “While we hope we never see a disaster like Sandy again, we are happy to be part of an initiative to provide a safe space for county residents.”
The generators are being funded through the Sandy Hazard Mitigation Grant Program’s Infrastructure Grant and Energy Allocation Initiative.
According to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), the project cost for the new generator at Collins Arena is $457,560. The dollar figure for improvements to the Warner Student Life Center is currently being reviewed, though anticipated to be around the same amount.
The estimated date of completion for the generator installation is December 2017, said MCSO public information officer Cynthia Scott.
With these new generators, county OEM ser vices are anticipating the two buildings at Brookdale will be an integral piece of the Monmouth County Emergency Operations Plan.
Scott said Brookdale was chosen as the site because the college “is located outside of any flood zones, the campus is accessible, and the Collins Arena and Student Life Center are capable of holding the largest number of evacuees in one location, thus allowing Monmouth County to maximize its resources.”
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden called Brookdale “an ideal location” for emergency shelters. Other locations are being planned, according to Scott.
After Super Storm Sandy slammed the Jersey Shore, Monmouth University was used as the county’s evacuation shelter. Nearly 1,500 people flocked to the university in West Long Branch for relief.
The Robert J. Collins Arena is the home court for the Brookdale Jersey Blues, and is also used for high school graduations and other large-scale events. Capacity inside is capped around 2,000 in the 23,000-square-foot event space, according to Brookdale. A four-lane track wraps around the length of the arena, spanning 1/10 of a mile.
The Warner Student Life Center, which opened in 2008, is an 81,000-square-foot complex only a few hundred feet away from the arena. It houses the community college’s 335-seat cafeteria, bookstore, numerous large seminar rooms and smaller offices on the bottom floor.
Murphy said Brookdale and Monmouth County jointly applied for and received the grant funding for the emergency generators in fiscal year 2015.
Throughout Monmouth County, 50 total projects have benefitted from the two Sandy Hazard Mitigation Grants, with $11,457,031 being allocated to energy and infrastructure improvements.
On April 13, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously passed a resolution approving a Memorandum of Understanding between the MCSO and Brookdale for the community college to become both an Emergency Evacuation Center and a Community Reception Center.
This article was first published in the April 20-27, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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