A concept drawing of the proposed Monmouth Marine and Environmental Field Station, which would be built atop the existing sanitary sewer pump station in the background. The red star on the satellite photo below indicates the location. (Photo by John T. Ward, map by Google Maps. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
The riverfront pump building, located at the northern end of the Avenue of Two Rivers, would serve as the base for the proposed Monmouth Marine and Environmental Field Station to be built and operated by Monmouth University, town and university officials said at an announcement ceremony Tuesday.
The project doesn’t yet have a timetable or budget, said Steven Bachrach, dean of the university’s School of Science. But it envisions a new structure to house classrooms, laboratories and meeting space for marine science students from the university, as well as visits and projects for the borough’s K-through-12 students.
If the idea gets a greenlight from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, it might also have a dock, he told redbankgreen.
Bachrach said construction would probably add 4,000 to 5,000 square feet of usable floor space,. He estimated it might cost $1.5 million.
“I don’t know what would have been a better location,” Bachrach, who’s been with the university for just a year, told redbankgreen. Given the site’s direct access to the Navesink and Shrewsbury, as well as it proximity to Sandy Hook Bay, New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, “this is pretty close to ideal,” he said.
The School of Science and its Urban Coast Institute have used the borough-owned boat ramp that adjoins the site to launch small vessels for research work for the past decade, said Mayor John Ekdahl. The borough recently granted the university permission to store boats and research equipment on the property.
“This location, with its access to the rivers and ocean, is unique,” Ekdahl told a gathering of several dozen onlookers.
The pump station, one of 11 in town, was among the half dozen knocked out of commission by flooding during Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012. It has since been reinforced with flood-resistant doors.
And no, it doesn’t stink inside, said Councilman Ben Day.
Bill Kastning, executive director of the Monmouth Conservation Foundation, which is assisting in the project, said the foundation had hoped to acquire the undeveloped Dorn’s and Picnic islands just offshore in the river in part as a home for the science center, but DEP rules prohibit development on them.
Meantime, the foundation still hopes to acquire the islands for preservation, he said.