Friends of Liberty State Park were joined by Jersey City officials and residents at a rally to protect Caven Point on Saturday in light of a bill making it’s way through the legislature that would do just that.
“Believe it or not, that sandy beach along Caven Point is the only sandy beach for miles in either direction. They bring school kids here, thousands of children every year to study and learn about the annual migration of the horseshoe crab, the monarch butterfly. There are species of migratory birds that you can’t see right now,” noted Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33).
“The hubris of a billionaire to look at public land from up there [points to Liberty National Golf Course] and literally think ‘I can buy this.’ A credit to our citizen guardians for standing up for our precious open space, public crown jewel of the state park system.”
Mukherji was the prime sponsor of the Liberty State Park Protection Act, which never received a vote from the full legislature, and was the only member of the Hudson County delegation to vote against the Liberty State Park Conservation, Recreation, and Community Inclusion Act in June.
The measure, signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy (D), allows a 23-member task force to decide how to spend $50 million from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP).
The assemblyman said at the time that he could not support legislation that did not have explicit language against privatization efforts, alluding to Liberty National CEO Paul Fireman’s short-lived effort to expand his golf course into Caven point in 2020.
Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore said “this is the people’s park,” praising everyone for ensuring state Senator Brian Stack’s (D-33) bill to protect Caven point moved forward.
That piece of legislation cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in August.
Ward E Councilman James Solomon, who along with Mukherji asked for protections to Caven Point to be added to the community inclusion act prior to its passage, said that LSP is “our oasis” where he took his two daughters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is our special place and we have a simple message for Paul Fireman: you can’t buy it, you can’t buy the park … Unfortunately, we saw the effects of money in politics this spring in Trenton: we saw the ability to buy legislation without the support of the people,” Solomon said.
“But we stand here today to say ‘it’s not gonna happen again because we’re gonna pass the Caven Point Protection Act, we’re gonna guarantee that land is preserved in perpetuity for every single generation, every Hudson County youngster, New Jersey youngster, who use that land as a natural classroom.”
8th District Democratic congressional nominee Rob Menendez, FOLSP President Sam Pesin, Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea, and NY/NJ Baykeeper Greg Remaud were among other officials who spoke in favor of preserving Caven Point.
“Yes, for over 30 years we’ve had to fight for this park. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to continue to fight because when you have the crown jewel, everyone’s gonna try to steal it. Everyone’s gonna try to buy it,” O’Dea said.
“That crown jewel must belong to the people and no one else. You can’t buy it, you can’t steal it, you can’t legislate it. We have to make sure that that’s clear.”
The rally came days after the People’s Park Foundation, a group pushing for expanded recreation at LSP, announced that they had converted to nonprofit status and were receiving funding from the Fireman Foundation.