Op-Ed: Protect the future of Liberty State Park, free from large-scale development


In an editorial, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla explains why he is in support of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s vision for Liberty State Park.

Photo courtesy of Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s office.

By Ravi Bhalla, Mayor of Hoboken

With the future of Liberty State Park hanging in the balance, residents of Hudson County have a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the future of the 600-acre haven, located at the footstep of the Statue of Liberty.

After attending the recent public hearing hosted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), it is clear that there is overwhelming momentum behind the DEP’s well-thought out proposal to revitalize Liberty State Park that preserves open spaces, restores hundreds of acres of contaminated land, and adds needed active recreation.

In contemplating the use of open public land, it is crucially important for decision makers to listen to the input of various community groups and stakeholders.

Sam Pesin, the tireless leader of Friends of Liberty State Park, has fought for years to preserve and protect the park from large-scale development and commercialization at the hands of special interest groups.

The DEP has incorporated feedback from thousands of Hudson County residents to come up with an attractive mix of passive and active spaces, largely in line with Sam’s vision for the park.

Proposals to add an out-of-scale 5,000 seat stadium and 7,000 seat concert venue do not meet this vision, and rightfully so.

Notably, the DEP’s plan incorporates 50 acres of recreation spaces, due to the tremendous need that was obvious during the past few years of public outreach.

This present predicament surrounding Liberty State Park is not all too dissimilar to the threats we have faced in our own efforts to protect Hoboken’s public waterfront.

Along two regions of our uptown waterfront, Hoboken faced the prospect of two large residential towers at the Monarch site, and a heavy ferry refueling depot at the former Union Dry Dock property.

Thanks to steadfast advocacy from our residents, local non-profits and stakeholders – including Mr. Pesin – Hoboken was able to preserve the entire uptown waterfront for public, open space.

We also know a thing or two about flood remediation in Hoboken, as this is one of our biggest quality of life issues. Claims that Liberty State Park will flood after the renovations simply don’t hold water.

The plans the DEP presented include flood retention, in other words, the ability to store water within the park’s proposed green infrastructure when it rains, similar to what occurs in Hoboken’s resiliency parks.

Make no mistake about it – this is a crucial and well-utilized tool that will keep hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater away from streets and sidewalks of surrounding neighborhoods, not the other way around.

I am fully confident the final product at Liberty State Park will reflect the charm and vision presented by the DEP and supported by Mr. Pesin: a beautiful, breathtaking waterfront open space with a mix of passive open spaces and active recreation, free from large-scale commercialization, that will become the crown jewel of our Hudson County waterfront.


Editor’s note: Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla is also a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 8th District, which includes Liberty State Park.

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  1. Oh look, Ravi found a park in Jersey City!
    Has he gotten a tax payer funded tour and driver and security detail to take him there ?
    Perhaps he should take a look at the easement maps for Rebuild by Design while he’s on the way to his new land of discovery

    Just don’t use Hoboken owned SUV’s or drivers!

  2. Good to see Mayor Bhalla is adding his voice to the DEP recommendations for Liberty State Park keep free from large scale venues and commercialization.

  3. His egregious acts were enough to get Zimmer back in the game to defend the good people of Hoboken over a Fulop/ Solomon big money developer
    @RaviBhalla @CityofHoboken Mayor Bhalla: Your job is to put Hoboken first! Stand w/me to demand Mayor Fulop stop playing games and provide the JC/RBD easements without further delay so southern Hoboken can be protected! #EnvironmentalJustice,” Zimmer tweeted this morning.