LETTER: Friends of Liberty State Park need to form ‘a fight team’ now ahead of pivotal battle

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In a letter to the editor, Jersey City resident Joe Harkins says that now is the time for the Friends of Liberty State Park to get tough and form “a fight team” ahead of a pivotal battle against Paul Fireman and the Liberty National golf course.

Dear Editor,

This is the last battle. They seem to come in 10 year cycles, but this is the one that will either protect the park for generations or be the beginning of the end of the Free, Green and Open park your family and a handful of people such as Audrey Zapp and Ted Conrad helped create.

I am sure you would agree that were Audrey still alive, she would be in Paul Fireman’s face every day, keeping him on his heels.

Ted Conrad would do something outrageous, like his legendary climb to the roof of the Hudson County Courthouse to chase down the workers who were stripping off the slates.

Until now, the actions of FOLSP have been mostly passive and in reaction against the various land-grab assaults.

Aside from laudable activities such as cleanups and walking tours, the public only hears from FOLSP in a 10-second sound bite or a letter to an editor or a few words quoted from an interview, whenever the media comes to you.

What we don’t get is pro-active, militant, aggressive and even angry public actions that call upon public outrage. If there was ever for a time for that, this is it.

There will not be another time like it in our lifetimes.

I respectfully ask you to commit the political and financial resources of FOLSP to a strong, powerful, public campaign.

Spend FOLSP resources on hosting one large, loud, broadly-based public event that the politicians cannot avoid. Make it the event they cannot avoid. And soon.

Get them standing out in public, speaking in support of a Free, Green and Open Liberty Sate Park.

Reach out for community support.

Jersey City is filled with strong neighborhood groups who surely would rise to support the park. Don’t wait for the media to ask your opinion.

Give them news, events, public statements, etc they cannot avoid putting on the front page or feature in the nightly news.

Reach out to the local wealthy who love this city and are no strangers to a dog-fight.

I can name a few real estate people right now who can afford to back an organized fight and know where the levers are.

There are major corporations and organizations that understand that LSP is valuable in attracting personnel.

There are civic organizations of business men and women, entrepreneurs who care about this community.

I am unaware of any attempts by FOLSP to recruit those groups as allies or even board members.

The Friends of Liberty State Park has made itself vulnerable to the current attack by not having in place a Board of Directors, or at the very least, an active Advisory Board, comprised of representative communities as well as leading business and political figures. This must be corrected ASAP.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe it already exists. I sincerely apologize if it does. But I see no sign of that structure and those allies, just when all of it is needed most. We need those allies right now.

We need more then “nice guy” leadership from you. Aside from the financial resources of the FOLSP, you have tremendous political capital.

If you do not use it now, with urgent aggression, to win the fight over these 22-acres, there will be no need for it later.

Form a Fight Team, right now. Give it the resources and the authority of the FOLSP name.

They can win if you do that. Thank you for reading.

Joe Harkins
Jersey City resident

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