The Liberty State Park Nature Center has reopened after being closed for nine years due to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The Central Railroad building in the park also had to be restored, which was prioritized by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), which administers the park.
“This is truly incredible. Spaces like this are truly important for the community,” NJDEP Deputy Commissioner Olivia Glenn said, also pointing out that a plan establishing recreation facilities in the park’s interior was unveiled recently.
“It’s going to add another 234 acres of land that is available for residents.”
Glenn also noted restrooms in the LSP Nature Center are close to the interior, which is being restored.
Additionally, NJ DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said they work on maintaining parks along with addressing climate change.
“Make no mistake about it: Climate change took this place out and it’s not done with us. So we have got to confront it here and now,” he said.
“We’ve got to build back better, more resilient. We have got to plan for a future that looks different. We have that very much in mind with respect to the interior restoration.”
Additionally, former LSP Deputy Superintendent Jon Luk noted two feet of water flooded the building during Superstorm Sandy, which nearly ruined the building and its electrical system.
He said the damage was “really to the point where we weren’t sure if it was able to be salvaged.”
Fish were “literally scattered by the dozens right on this concrete patio,” Luk added.
Luk continued that they preserved as much as they could: the renovated interior of the building was made of weather-resistant materials.
In the process of rebuilding the center, the vestibule was enclosed to enlarge the building without expanding its footprint. The restored building includes a pond discovery room, aquariums, and a room for children to crawl around a tree.
They also replaced old VHS tapes and slides with multimedia technology.
In addition to restoring the building, they rebuilt miles of boardwalk, dozens of picnic tables, benches, and periscopes to repair the center’s grounds, with the electrical infrastructure being replaced as well.
“The reopening of the nature center with new exhibits of LSP nature and wildlife is exciting for students and all other visitors to complement their first-hand experience of benefiting from urban nature,” Friends of Liberty Park President Sam Pesin said.
The reopening had initially been scheduled for last year, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The press conference streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: