Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop hit Gov. Phil Murphy (D) over the current Liberty State Park controversy that could potentially open the door for development, exclaiming that “this is compromising 40 years of advocacy.”
“I’ve expressed in social media and in public that I’m disappointed in the governor,” Fulop said during a media scrum at an unrelated press conference about temperature and face mask scanners coming to municipal buildings.
“We communicated yesterday morning, he was aware that this was in the bill and we expressed the importance of line vetoing this particular line – still moving the budget forward – and he proceeded to sign it nevertheless, which is compromising 40 years of advocacy from the community, and governors prior, to protect Liberty State Park.”
Yesterday, Murphy signed a $7.7 billion, three-month budget extension after it was approved by the state legislature, though lawmakers denounced it once they found out it included a provision about state parks.
Specifically, one paragraph out of the 111-page amendment allows the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to solicit bids for leasing portions of state parks.
That language of the bill has been panned by several local officials, with many placing the blame on Reebok founder and billionaire Paul Fireman – who tried to unsuccessfully expand his Liberty National golf course into LSP back in December.
Fulop stated today that while he disagrees with Fireman’s plan, the blame should be placed on the politicians that allowed this to happen.
“I happen to disagree with Paul Fireman’s interests, but he’s not the one to blame: the public officials that are elected are the ones who are responsible for protecting the public.”
After several initial news stories broke, a spokeswoman for Murphy’s office, Alexandra Altman, indicated that they did not plan to develop LSP.
“The governor’s office and Department of Environmental Protection do not intend to do a solicitation for Liberty State Park,” she said last night, a point that Murphy himself reiterated at today’s daily coronavirus press briefing – which occurred after this afternoon’s media event in Jersey City.
When HCV asked for Fulop’s thoughts on this sentiment, he scoffed at the notion that LSP wasn’t supposed to be implicated by the bill.
“Anybody whose been involved in this issue for the past two, three years knows that’s not true. This was put in to further the privatization of Liberty State Park, I think that’s commonly accepted, and if the governor is representing otherwise, it’s just not true,” Fulop said.
“The reality is that he needs to fix it. He was aware of it and he proceeded to sign it: that’s just unacceptable.”
The governor’s office did not return an email seeking a response to Fulop’s comments on Wednesday.