While top New Jersey Democrats such as Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) received top billing for taking a stand against Gov. Christie (R) to preserve Liberty State Park, it was NY/NJ Baykeeper Greg Remaud who had the harshest words for the governor.
“Let’s make no mistake: this is not a revenue plan, not a park revenue plan. It’s not a park improvement plan,” the NY/NJ Baykeeper Greg Remaud said at a press conference at Liberty House Restaurant last week.
“They didn’t talk to park staff, they didn’t talk to the public. It’s not a park revenue plan like they claim: there’s no financial studies, there’s no numbers to back up what they want. They hired people to walk consultants, developers, through the park and said ‘what do you wanna lease out here?’ That’s how it works.”
Earlier in the presser, Remaud claimed that the Christie administration was aiming to build an amusement and/or water park, as well as a low-rise hotel at Liberty State Park – all of which he believes would compromise the integrity of the park.
Mark Texel, the director of the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry, told Hudson County View that rumors of building an amusement or water park were unfounded, but did confirm that building a low-rise, four-story hotel where the rail yards are is an idea that has been floated.
Remaud took a stiff parting shot directly at Christie when he compared privatizing Liberty State Park to the now infamous Bridgegate scandal.
“And not Gov. Christie: it’s not time for a little traffic jam in Liberty State Park because that’s exactly what’s gonna happen if we have commercial vendors take over the park,” Remaud said to a loud round of applause.
Brian T. Murray, a spokesman for Christie’s office, did not address Remaud directly but said everyone who participated in the press conference, including Christie nemesis state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), of “playing politics by intentionally peddling misinformation.”
“Collectively and as individuals, they either have no idea what they are talking about or are playing politics by intentionally peddling misinformation to the public. It’s really that simple,” he said in an email, declining to comment further.
Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff for Christie, and Bill Baroni, an ex-deputy executive director of the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, were indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in May for allegedly conspiring to misuse Port Authority resources to create a traffic problem in Fort Lee.
The same day, David Wildstein, the Port Authority’s former director of interstate capital projects, pleaded guilty to conspiring with Kelly and Baroni to cause traffic problems in Fort Lee, specifically the George Washington Bridge, as retribution to Borough Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie during his 2013 re-election campaign (h/t NJ Advance Media).
An email from Kelly to Wildstein back in 2013 said “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” which Wildstein replied “got it” (h/t New York Times).
Kelly and Baroni have pleaded not guilty to the charges and major media outlets have recently sought for the names of the unindicted co-conspirators to be released, per The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Christie has repeatedly denied having any knowledge and/or involvement in the scandal.