Dec 3, 2012
U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), who worked with Monmouth County Clerk Claire French to overcome an initial federal denial of Monmouth County’s planned satellite Passport Office, joined French, Freeholders Lillian Burry, Tom Arnone, Serena DiMaso, Gary Rich, Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini and other local officials to mark the Dec. 1 grand opening.
Smith and County Clerk French have been working for months to realize the new service center, which opened its doors at the County Connection Building, 3544 State Highway 66 in Neptune.
“There were points when it looked like this passport facility wasn’t going to happen, and during those times Claire never got discouraged, and just persevered and fought on
,” Smith said. “After I contacted key officials in Washington, I set up a meeting in my office where Claire offered facts, figures and data and together we made the case to open a passport office here in Neptune
Over the past few months, Smith and French had been in contact with the National Passport Center (NPC) in support of an application for the facility. Smith wrote to the Director of NPC Karen Pizza
in New Hampshire in August, and set up a meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Consular Affairs Brenda Sprague
in his Washington office in September.
“Initially the application was denied due to a policy set in 2010 generally banning approvals of new passport offices
,” Smith said. “But we tried not to let that stop us. We learned the policy had some exceptions, so we focused on the merits of the proposal, and the fact that this facility would help better serve the people of the county. Secretary Sprague seemed genuinely persuaded by Claire’s presentation and promised to take another look. Ultimately, Secretary Sprague reversed an earlier decision by the NPC to deny the application
An earlier grand opening was slated for November but delayed due to Hurricane Sandy. In addition to the convenience of a second location with expanded evening and Saturday hours (the Clerk’s main office in Freehold Borough is open Mon.-Fri- 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.) for the processing of passport applications, residents can visit the site to notarize documents at no charge, obtain veteran’s identification cards and passport photos, and get access to public computers, election information and senior and veteran services.
“The Monmouth County Connection is open for business
,” French said. “Superstorm Sandy delayed the opening for a couple of weeks, but as of this morning we began processing passport applications, notarizing documents and issuing veterans’ IDs at our Neptune location
For more information click here
or call (732) 303-2828. The center, located across the street from the Walmart and directly next to Home Depot, is open Mon., Wed. and Fri. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tues. and Thurs. from 10 a.m. to 8 pm., and Sat.9 a.m. to 1 p.m.