11 advocacy groups are opposing the new Liberty State Park bill, calling for Caven Point to be protected, no major commercialization, and limiting active recreation to a certain area.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“In its current form, we continue to oppose this bill. However, we wish to be clear on the nature of our opposition. The groups below are aware of a need for active recreational opportunities for residents, particularly those who live in close proximity to the park,” the organizations wrote to the Assembly State and Local Government Committee yesterday.
“We support investment in the park, creation of more active and passive recreational opportunities, and increased public access. However, protection of critical natural spaces and habitat areas and additional active recreation are not mutually exclusive.”
Bill S2807, sponsored by state Senators Brian Stack (D-33), Sandra Cunningham (D-31), and Nick Sacco (D-32), would allocate $250 million from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection towards the park, with the task force deciding how to spend it.
The bill will be heard by the aforementioned committee this morning after being cleared by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Thursday.
The Assembly sponsors are Angela McKnight, Will Sampson (both D-31), and Annette Chaparro, none of which who are members of the state and local government committee.
The groups ask for amendments such as permanent protections for Caven Point, limiting active recreation to 62 acres overall – including 50 acres of the interior – prohibiting large-scale commercialization, and specifically outlining how the $250 million can be spent.
They also note that their preference would be for the Liberty State Park Protection Act to be considered.
“We are grateful to the sponsors for their openness to previous amendments to strengthen the bill, including those that removed language mandating the park generate revenue; prohibiting the construction of a casino within the park; and creating a more robust public participation process,” the letter concludes.
“We look forward to discussing this with you further to preserve Liberty State Park as the jewel of our park system and a resource for all.”
The letter is signed by the Friends of Liberty State Park, the NY/NJ Baykeeper, the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, the New Jersey Sierra Club, Environment New Jersey, New Jersey Audubon, the New Jersey Conversation Foundation, the American Littoral Society, New Jersey Citizen Action, the Hackensack Riverkeeper, and the New Jersey Policy Perspective.
Their requests are similar to the ones made by Ward E Councilman James Solomon, who sponsored a city council resolution in support of the LSSPA, and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), an original sponsor of the legislation.