Liberty State Farce? Jersey City residents outraged after community Zoom call has only 3 voices

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While over 200 Jersey City residents dialed into a Zoom call yesterday to have a conversation about the future of Liberty State Park, several are expressing outrage after only three voices were heard on the call – which started late and ended early.

Arnold Stovell (left) and Bruce Alston. Facebook photos.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The call was billed as being a two-hour affair, between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. last night, with Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson and Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera to provide opening remarks.

Moderator Arnold Stovell, who identified himself as part of the new group “Liberty State Park 4 All,” was expected to moderate a panel discussion between entrepreneur Bruce Alston and Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin before taking audience questions, based on a flier promoting the event.

However, very few of those things ended up going according to plan.

Robinson didn’t end up on the call until about an hour in, while Rivera did not end up participating at all. Pesin was also not a part of the call, which started about 20 minutes late and had the chat feature turned off for all of about 10 minutes.

As a result, the majority of the time was spent as a dialogue between Stovell and Alston, who said that Reebok founder and billionaire Paul Fireman, who has expressed a desire to expand Liberty National golf course into Caven Point, shouldn’t be villainized here.

“You need a millionaire or a billionaire with enough money to actually get something done … I’ve never seen a poor person ask for financial advice from another poor person,” Stovell stated.

“We need to stop this nonsense that there’s a push by Fireman to privatize the park: that’s nonsense. That’s coded racism,” Alston said, who for about an hour emphasized that Ward F and the black community needed to have a seat at the table this time around.

Both Stovell and Alston also expressed disdain with fact that a state master plan established in 1977 has largely never come to fruition, including a pool, aquarium, retail shops, an amphitheater – among other things.

At one point, Robinson apologized for the event not going as planned.

“I’m a little sad that the meeting did not go as the flyer said it would, with a debate some back and forth, and I do apologize for that … I truly wish this went a different way,” he said.

He also pointed out that Pesin was on the call and wondered aloud if he could still participate, but Stovell said he wouldn’t allow him to speak since he did not follow the game plan.

“If he had done what we were hoping for in the beginning, we would have done that, but I’m not going to do that now,” Stovell said, who attributed the chat function being disabled and no public question and answer session due to technical difficulties.

For the brief time that the chat function was enabled, residents expressed frustration with what was transpiring.

“Unfortunately only two of you can tale here,” wrote Elaine Hansen.

“All voices absolutely matter, the problem is you’re here supporting the billionaires who don’t need any more voice,” added Mary Beth Botts.

While Stovell couldn’t be reached for comment this morning, Alston blasted Pesin for pushing the Liberty State Park Protection Act and not giving the master plan serious consideration – again indicating the felt there were racist overtones at play.

“Sam’s problem is he thinks it’s the ‘master’s plan’ not the master plan: the last thing the slave masters ever wanted was for us to start talking and revolting. That’s the kind of plantation politics that we’re dealing with here.”

He also joked that he was a member of the Audubon Park County Club when asked if he had ever been a member of Liberty National, later stating he had never been a member, nor had he ever been in contact with Fireman.

Pesin told HCV last night that the FOLSP plays no decision-making role for the park, that responsibility rests with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

He also said that he was ignored by Stovell when he tried to work out to the details of being a panelist.

Additionally, it goes without saying that he is less than enthusiastic about the golf course expansion plan.

“The billionaire would destroy Caven Point so he can relocate three golf holes for
millionaires close to the bay. He can use his own vacant casino hotel land or buy the adjacent Army Reserve site for his tournament needs and for a youth golf academy, and he can donate millions if he’d like to help with LSP improvements without his getting the priceless Caven Pt as a quid pro quo,” he said.

“Fireman hasn’t given a penny to improve LSP in his 14 years of owning the golf course, and probably didn’t donate to Jersey City non-profits until he started wanting Caven Point for golf holes.”

Pesin also pushed back on the notion that there was any sort of racial component involved with this discussion.

“It’s totally not true, but I’m not surprised: it is an unethical weaponizing of the righteous Black Lives Movement for a false narrative to advance Paul FIreman’s privatization of the Caven Point portion of the park,” Pesin said, also calling the Zoom call “a sham.”

Late last month, the state legislature approved a budget extension that includes language that would allow development at state parks – which was later signed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D).

While Murphy has since vowed now to privatize LSP, prior to that, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop hit Murphy for signing the bill.

Furthermore, at the last Jersey City Council meeting, the governing body pulled a resolution supporting the LSP Protection Act for the second time in a row after Robinson urged his colleagues to push the vote until after he had a community discussion about the park.

10 COMMENTS

  1. “Pesin was also not a part of the call” – makes it sound like he didn’t show up, when in fact he WAS there the entire time but went unnoticed and unacknowledged. He was an “invited panelist”, per the flyer and was spoken about a few times as though he couldn’t have bothered taking part in this “discussion.” What kind of unprofessional nonsense is that? Finally at the very end of the meeting it was pointed out that he was in fact there, but Alston did not allow him to speak. Just wanted to make that all clear.

    • Yes, it was mentioned in the middle of the story that Robinson noted Pesin was on the call but Stovell said he had missed his opportunity to speak.

    • Actually, his name was printed on the poster that circulated before these clowns even had the courtesy of inviting him to speak. Then there was some confusion about how it was all supposed to come down (of course, he was ready to speak) and then, you know the rest. It was ugly!

  2. Fireman is obsessed with getting those acres and it appears he will tear apart a community to get what he wants. You are aware, I’m sure, that he already owns, in addition to all his various domiciles, a ranch out west, that equals in size seventy times the area of Jersey City itself.

    After last night, it’s more than clear now that Fireman has hired these men to do his on-the-ground dirty work.
    A few points to note: 
    The two complained about the lack of a swimming pool, but they neglected to mention that Ward F already has one of the best public/family pools in the city. Comfortable walking distance from all areas of the neighborhood.

    And the fact that our august panel have done absolutely no research into the contamination issue. They are flinging hot buzzwords around, but appear to know nothing about the actual areas involved; the nature of the contamination, the progress on the various remediations.The Caven Point acres are currently deemed safe for passive activity, which is precisely what goes on over there now: birdwatching, beachcombing, nature walks, etc. To put a golf course there would defeat these past 20+ years of cleaning that has made Caven Point a home for shorebirds and other wildlife. Birds have been recently spotted that haven’t been seen in decades. It is a natural science lab, as well as a beautiful peaceful environment. A miracle, really in the middle of one of the largest urban centers on the planet.

    We obviously have our work cut out, but let’s be grateful that these “moderators” showed their hand in such a public way. It was a travesty and everybody saw it.

  3. So much for Ward F Councilman Robinson’s ‘Community Meeting’ where no one from the Community was permitted to express their position or concerns….a TOTAL waste of 2HRs listening to unbridled rants about ‘Plantation Politics’ through the filtered lenses of 3 ill-prepared individuals who held the floor.
    The only thing they accomplished was to demonstrate their personal biases & ignorance while attempting to hijack the BLM Movement to incite further Divisiveness within our city, or as Frank Gilmore predicted “pimp’ it.

    Fact: the Caven point acreage at issue here was remediated, & is not ‘Contaminated’ according to NJDEP records, so Mr. Alston, Mr. Stovell & Mr. Robinson need to get their act together when presenting their ‘factoids’ to ‘their community’ & the general public.

  4. Sam person is a fraud anyway. He’s nothing like his father was. He was silent when Fulop wanted to build a casino in LSP, until months after when Fulop allowed him to speak on it. Person is a false idol and you fools need to move on from him.

  5. About the “contamination” issue, we need to be clear about one important thing: Caven Point, as it stands now, has already been sufficiently remediated for what is considered “passive use”. This is precisely how it now serves the population. It is a nature sanctuary, bird-nesting site & wildlife refuge, educational resource and just a pleasant place to go for a walk on the beach & observe nature. If it were to be converted into a golf course, costly further remediation would be required. Costly in terms of $ but more importantly costly to the habitat of the natural life that has re-emerged in recent years. Not to mention the horrendous polluting effects of lawn care products and insecticides that will have to be routinely applied to maintain the greens. Don’t let this happen. We’ve fought long and hard to return this acreage to the public after hard commercial & industrial abuse. Let’s break that cycle for us and for future generations.

    • How ironic that Alston says, ““Sam’s problem is he thinks it’s the ‘master’s plan’ not the master plan”

      Doesn’t the plantain owner (Fireman) want to take over land that now belongs to the people?

      Bruce Alston, how can you advocate giving public land to a wealthy outsider who has never done anything for this community? Who wins? Who loses?

      If you are as sincere as you claim to be, you belong over here on this side, telling him to keep his damned hands off the public’s park. Why are you over there, working for him?

      When did you ever bend over and pick up trash on Clean Up Day? When did you ever pester anyone to donate money for the park? When did you ever spend any time actually walking in the park?

      Why have you not had anything to do with the park until this greedy rich outsider wants part of it? What inspires your sudden interest in his goals?

  6. You can’t even get his name right so you obviously don’t know anything about him or you’d never characterize him as a “fraud”. He has never been silenced not about a casino or anything else, so you can move on now.

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