NJ DEP announces formation of inaugural 17-member Liberty State Park Design Task Force

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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has announced the formation of the inaugural 17-member Liberty State Park Design Task Force, which may include several elected officials and community leaders.

Liberty State Park. Screenshot via YouTube.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The task force, created by NJ DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette, convened their first virtual meeting on Tuesday and seeks to consider the public’s input when developing conceptual and design plans for LSP.

“We have a once in a generation opportunity to enhance Liberty State Park for the benefit of all people. We can only seize that opportunity through deep engagement with residents and stakeholders interested in the preservation, planning, and improvement of the park,” LaTourette said in a statement.

“As DEP continues the public engagement we started last year, this task force will be responsible for advising my colleagues and me on the finer design details so that we can together ensure that DEP’s plans for the park will meet the diverse needs of our communities.”

The task force is co-chaired by DEP Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Justice and Equity Olivia Glenn and DEP Director of Parks and Forestry John Cecil.

Task force convenings will be focused on aiding DEP in operationalizing public feedback received at design milestones.

While task force convenings will not be broadcasted, DEP will continue its ongoing Liberty State Park public participation process, both in-person and online.

Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson, who has come out against the LSP Protection Act in the past, applauded the DEP’s decision here.

“I believe this task force will champion the most important things I believe are necessary in Liberty State Park – active recreation and the cleanup of the contamination.,” he said in a statement.

“This is a great outcome for our city and my ward, and I am satisfied with the DEP’s move, as this will ensure that the park will be a valued community resource for future generations to come.”

The DEP has committed to developing a plan to remediate and restore 235 acres within the interior of Liberty State Park that has long been closed to the public due to environmental contamination dating back decades.

The interior restoration is fully funded by DEP, utilizing monies from DEP’s successful prosecutions of damages to the state’s natural resources.

The task force will also include four residents selected by the task force co-chairs and approved by LaTourette, as well as 11 others who all have the ability to appoint a designee in their place:

1. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop

2. Jersey City Department of Recreation and Youth Development Lucinda McLaughlin

3. Hudson County Commissioner Jerry Walker (D-3)

4. Hudson County Division of Parks Chief Thomas McCann

5. Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Franklin Walker

6. New Jersey NAACP President Richard T. Smith

7. The Jersey City NAACP president *position currently vacant

8. Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin

9. Liberty State Park for All Executive Director Arnold Stovell

10. Liberty State Park Superintendent Robert Rodriguez

11. NJ DEP Office of Natural Resource Restoration Bureau Chief *no one listed

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