Around 300 people, including elected officials and activists, participated in the Liberty State Park Protection Act rally earlier today, urging state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) to release the bill in the lower house next week.
There were multiple speakers voicing their opposition to the Liberty National Golf Club’s proposed expansion of a golf course along Caven Point’s 22-acre peninsula, along LSP’s southwestern-most end.
Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel, and Hackensack Riverkeeper Capt. Bill Sheehan, among others, all said that the park has to finally be protected from future private development schemes.
Pesin noted that the state senate’s current version of the Liberty State Park Protection Act includes an amendment that would allow for private development at Caven Point, which is unacceptable.
“We need the senate to pass the protection act as it is with no amendment that would lead to the privatization of the natural area of Caven Point, and we need Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to post the bill for a vote,” Pesin began.
“Let me say that again: The speaker of the assembly must post the bill for a vote. Liberty State Park deserves a vote in the senate and the assembly on Monday to get it to the governor’s desk so that we can once and for all protect Liberty State Park for future generations.”
The Liberty State Park Protection Act, in addition to protecting the park from the golf course expansion, would also create the Liberty State Park Advisory Committee which would assist the Department of Environmental Protections (DEP) in conserving, preserving, protecting, and improving the park.
However, the DEP would be allowed to approve a concession, conveyance, lease, or other agreement with a private entity to provide small-scale commercial activities that directly enhance the experience of a visitor to Liberty State Park.
Tittel of the NJ Sierra Club said that with rapid development in Jersey City, there’ll be less green space available for residents and children, all the reason why LSP needs to be a prioritized.
“This is the most used state park in the country, somewhere between five to seven million visitors per year. If they destroy this park, where are they going?”
On the other hand, Liberty National, co-founded by Paul Fireman – the mogul behind Reebok – has previously explored other developments at the park such as a 90-story Liberty Rising hotel and casino.
He and other proponents have argued that the expansion in the park should be allowed because it will provide life-changing opportunities for Jersey City’s inner-city youth.
On Liberty National Golf Club’s website, Fireman says that the game of golf is a character builder that helped him succeed in business.
“In my generation, children were seen and not heard, but when you went out as a caddie, you not only had the right to talk, but the adults asked you questions. It became a social way of connecting people together.”
Additionally, Fireman is proposing an environmental cleanup of the site at Caven Point.
While today’s rally demonstrated strong support for the protection of Liberty State Park, several politically influential organizations are asking the state legislature to postpone a vote on the park’s protection act.
Two building trades unions, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 and Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), want to make sure that their members have access to the jobs that would come from remediation of contaminated areas at Caven Point, NJ Globe reported this morning.
In addition, the NAACP New Jersey State Conference says that while the park’s protection act is well meaning, it fails to provide any real benefit to people of color in Hudson County.
We live streamed the entire rally to our Facebook Page and can be viewed below: