TOMS RIVER – How does the Leonard G. “Bud” Lomell Outpatient Clinic sound? Local officials feel that it’s a pretty good bet that the new facility being built will be named after the World War II hero from Toms River.
The official address is 1051 Hooper Avenue. The groundbreaking was on Caudina Avenue, which is the back road past two banks that leads to the Seacourt Mall. Officials at the groundbreaking last year said that the building will enhance services currently provided, and will also add more. Some of the specialties noted during the presentation was primary care, mental health, dental, podiatry, and women’s health, which is the fastest growing department.
Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill has been pushing for the facility to be named after Lomell. He said in a recent interview that the town sent proclamations to Congressmen Andy Kim and Chris Smith and both were in favor of that name. Kim is a Democrat who used to represent Toms River. After the districts changed, the town is now represented by Smith, a Republican.
Given that there’s support from both political sides, “I’m pretty confident that’s going to happen,” the mayor said.
As an Army Ranger, Lomell was in Normandy on D-Day. Already injured by machine gun fire, he led his forces on their mission to disable 155-mm cannons that were aimed to keep invaders off the beaches. It was necessary to take out those guns before the rest of the forces came to shore. However, the guns had been moved. Lomell spotted markings in an area that looked like something heavy had been moved through there. He followed the trail and disabled the guns, saving countless lives.
Months later, the Rangers would be ordered to take Hill 400, a strategic location in Germany. Many had failed but the Rangers charged and caught the enemy by surprise. They held the hill for the rest of the day, though only 25 of them survived. Lomell suffered a concussion and injured his arm in the battle.
He would be wounded again during the Battle of the Bulge. Tom Brokaw has a chapter dedicated to him in “The Greatest Generation.”
Lomell settled in Toms River. He was an attorney and businessman, as well as a member of the board of education and trustee of the Ocean County College Foundation. He passed away in 2011.
This wouldn’t be the first thing named after him; a connector road at Garden State Parkway exit 83 is called “Lomell Lane.”
The Brick facility was named after James J. Howard, who represented the 3rd District in Congress from 1965 until his death in office in 1988.
He is known for highlighting the dangers of faulty M16 rifles used in Vietnam. He is also responsible for creating the 55 mph speed limit and establishing the drinking age at 21. His name also adorns housing in Fort Monmouth and the portion of Interstate 195 in New Jersey.
It took many years to even get to this point.
Currently, veterans travel to Brick’s James J. Howard Outpatient Clinic for their needs. They have complained that the facility is understaffed and that it doesn’t have enough parking. Also, some of them have to travel up to East Orange for certain services.
Towns vied against each other to entice the VA to set up the clinic in their location, but ultimately the Toms River site was chosen. There were the expected bureaucratic setbacks and red tape along the way.
The new building will be about twice the size, measuring 68,000 square feet. It will neighbor the county’s new social services building when that’s completed. There is also a bus stop and other amenities nearby.
Hill estimates that it could open spring of 2024.
FD Stonewater, of Arlington, VA, is the developer. Smithgroup, an architectural, engineering and planning firm; Harvey Cleary builders; and T&M Associates, an engineering company, will also be involved.