NJ Sierra Club President Jeff Tittel is taking aim at the Liberty National golf course over a failed 2017 expansion plan into Liberty State Park that would have been valued at about $1 million.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Billionaire Paul Fireman tried to get away with a dirty deal done dirt cheap. Not only is he trying to take one of the most valuable pieces of property in a state park that belongs to all of us, but he tried to do it for pennies on the dollar,” Tittel said in a statement.
“He wanted to pay the state $200,000, which is nothing considering it costs $500,000 to join the golf club and $25,000 per person per year. He also offered some land in the Pinelands. This is a park that represents both The Statue of Liberty and the gateway to our country. This shows that not only did Fireman want to destroy the park, he was also trying to buy the land for next to nothing.”
NJ Sierra Club was one of the groups that filed a lawsuit in 2018 to open a copy of the proposal, where Liberty National offered the state a $200,000 lump sum for Caven Point Peninsula – or $10,000 a year for 24 years – and Pinelands property valued at $440,000.
In order to add an additional three holes to the golf course, the club also proposed paying for services at Liberty State Park: $200,000 for a jitney, $50,000 for equipment at the Caven Point Beach, another $50,000 to improve the picnic area, and $60,000 towards the Hudson River Walkway.
“ … Now we can see just how much Fireman thought he could get away with. Fireman said that he’s giving up on expanding his golf course, but that may be just for now. He still hasn’t come out to support the Liberty State Park Protection Act, which he helped to block,” Tittel continued.
“We have to stay vigilant because people like him will continue to try to privatize Liberty State Park until we have protections in place. No matter what Governor Murphy says, there is still language in the budget bill that would allow for the privatization of parks like Liberty State Park. Murphy needs to put an executive order in place to protect Liberty State Park, and he needs to support the LSP Protection Act and help get it passed.”
While Fireman said on July 15th, prior to the Jersey City Council meeting where they urged the state legislature to pass the LSPPA, that he was halting plans to expand his golf course, his name continues to come up in relation to potential privatization at the park.
Bruce Alston, a local entrepreneur who has been vocal about considering public partnerships at LSP, blasted NJ Sierra Club for attacking Fireman.
“With disgust I read the remarks being offered up by the NJ Sierra Club, an organization co-founded by a racist environmentalist,” Alston said.
“Our issues are real and with Mr. Fireman stating he is willing to become a supporter of Social Justice issues … should be met with guarded optimism & hope that he can become an ally of the social justice reform movement. We as the leaders of the black and brown communities must not be fooled by oppressors who claim to be our allies but continue to support an agenda which reeks of plantation politics.”
Earlier this week, Freeholder Jerry Walker (D-3) said that Trenton lawmakers must call for “a new study around the contamination” at Liberty State Park, which Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin brushed off as another inaccurate PR stunt by Fireman.
Fireman had recently made a $10,000 donation to Walker’s non-profit organization, Team Walker.