Joining Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), the Jersey City council condemned the Gov. Chris Christie administration for trying to privatize Liberty State Park.
The unanimously approved (9-0) resolution says “it’s all part of Governor Christie’s euphemistic Sustainable Parks concept to squeeze more money out of our green spaces by destroying large portions of them.”
It also urges “Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to hold public hearings for all discussions concerning the proposed commercialization and privation of the Liberty State Park,” as well as requesting that the NJ DEP remain fair and transparent in hiring a master planner.
Sam Pesin, the son of Morris Pesin who helped build Liberty State Park and founder of Friends of Liberty State Park (FOLSP), thanked the City Council and Fulop for all their efforts to preserve the park.
Through the support of FOLSP, there is now a coalition to save the park with 40 organizations from the city and state, who announced their partnership at last week’s press conference at The Liberty House, according to Pesin.
“The Coalition to Save Liberty State Park, that title has been used many times before, because like Councilwoman Osbourne has mentioned, there has been many attempts to commercialize the park, and the good news about the park is that people have always stood up, put democracy into practice and fought for free park, behind the Statue of Liberty,” said Pesin.
“The governor’s wrong to want Liberty Park to pay for itself. The park serves the public good.”
Pesin also mentioned that on the FOLSP website, there are 10-pages of opposition on Christie’s commercialization and privatization plan.
Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro voted yes to this resolution stating this will “let the governor know that we are going to fight this every step of the way and that there will be no privatization at Liberty State Park.”
The Christie Administration unveiled its ideas on large scale commercialization and private development to Liberty State Park this past November in an 18-page report written by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
“The Future of Liberty State Park” report introduced a possible low-rise hotel along the waterfront, restaurants, an amusement park, indoor sports complex and an amphitheater at the south end of the park where the 123-year-old Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal is located as well as the historic train sheds.
Mark Texel, the director of the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry, specifically told Hudson County View after last week’s press conference that the hotel idea was still a possibility, while the amusement and/or water park concept was not.
These ideas are all part of Christie’s sustainable park initiative introduced in 2011 where by 2015 all state parks should generate a revenue of $15 million a year to minimize its financial dependence on the state.
The report also included a recommendation by the NJ DEP to hire a master planner to analyze these possible developments.
There is an ongoing collection of signatures to save the park at www.SaveLSP.org.
In response to the press conference as a whole, as well as NY/NJ Baykeeper Greg Remaud blasting Christie over the plan, a spokesman from Christie’s Office said that the Coalition to Save LSP “is intentionally peddling misinformation to the public.”