By Sam Pesin
We enthusiastically support the state Department of Environmental Protection’s spectacular and inclusive “New Vision” plans for Liberty State Park’s interior. The DEP’s plans create a nature wonderland with paths and add free-structured, active recreation to the multitude of unstructured and passive recreation activities enjoyed in this priceless park in this crowded, concrete urban area.
We strongly condemn the park-destroying commercial venues plans pushed by billionaire oligarch Paul Fireman, his high-priced lobbyists, two funded front groups and other funded surrogates for a 5,000- and 2,500-seat stadium and 7,000-seat commercial concert venue.
Their exclusionary, admission-fee, unpreventable traffic jam-causing commercial venues plans trashes the DEP’s plans and ignore the park’s 46 years of the overwhelming majority broad public consensus of many tens of thousands opposing commercialization and privatization and supporting a Central Park-type park with free open space, recreation and natural areas.
Fireman’s plan robs our scarce urban parkland for venues that will have regular admission-fee events on weekends. Liberty State Park is a crucial mental and physical public health resource and is jam-packed on nice weekends. The Jersey Journal’s editorial last year said this “next battle is preventing the construction of a Fireman-supported sports and entertainment complex that will erect a new barrier to the people’s enjoyment of the park: ticket booths.”
The DEP’s plans are for the long-studied, publicly vetted and fully funded plans for remediation and creation of 165 acres of diverse natural habitats and miles of paths and also for 61 amazing acres of active recreation with 50 acres inside the interior. The park needs ballfields, not stadiums!
The extraordinary nature plans will benefit local and all visitors of all ages, students and wildlife and provide equitable urban access to green space and nature and be an international model by transforming the former Central Railroad of New Jersey freight yard site into one of the world’s greatest urban natural areas.
The DEP’s 2021 decision about the 61 acres was to support free active recreation amenities — after not allowing active recreation in any state park. The recommendation was based on input from its public meetings, meetings with local officials, and the DEP’s 3,652 active recreation survey responses for ballfields, track and field areas, basketball, etc.
Shamefully, Fireman’s money, lobbyists and bought-off surrogates killed the overdue Liberty State Park Protection Act by pushing lies and smear attacks and they replaced it with the fast-tracked Fireman non-protection law last June. The Fireman law’s task force is an obscene travesty because it includes several of his funded surrogates.
The Protection Act, supported by 33,000 petition signers and 111 local, regional and statewide Coalition groups, would have protected the park as a FREE People’s Park and finally ended commercialization and privatization battles and it would have allowed for small-scale commercial activities.
Robert Geddes led the design team that created the park’s original master plan, completed in 1978. Once the DEP’s habitats, paths and active recreation plans are implemented, the old Terminal sheds re-used, and a cool bandshell created in the North Cove Field behind the ferry parking lot, the park’s features and philosophy will be compatible with Geddes’ visionary master plan.
Geddes, who died on Feb. 13, adamantly opposed the Liberty State Park Conservation, Recreation, and Community Inclusion Act, which Gov. Murphy signed last June. The act (S-2807) threatens the master plan and would put an end to Liberty State Park as we know it.
In place of grassy lawns and athletic fields, the act opens the park to large-scale commercial ventures and private golf courses. The stadium and the amphitheater would require paved parking, taking away from park green space.
Furthermore, the aggressive commercial development would bring large amounts of automobile traffic onto narrow neighborhood streets … creating traffic jams that would block access to the park by the general public.”
The Friends’ co-founder and first president, John Tichenor, in a 1994 letter to the editor, advocated for “a Central Park type-park with family values at its heart: with picnic areas, playgrounds, ballfields, etc. along with gardens and natural areas.”
Liberty State Park is an urban, state and national treasure which is deserved by future generations as a free and fully accessible park without stadiums and a commercial concert venue.
Sam Pesin is president of The Friends of Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
Here’s how to submit an op-ed or Letter to the Editor. Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow us on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and on Facebook at NJ.com Opinion. Get the latest news updates right in your inbox. Subscribe to NJ.com’s newsletters.
Follow us on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and on Facebook at NJ.com Opinion.
Since the Portland Trail Blazers waved the white flag and shut down Damian Lillard for the remainder of the season, they have shifted their focus to developing
Hunter Dickinson, the Michigan men’s basketball team’s leading scorer and rebounder each of the past three years, has entered the transfer portal.A program
Post Views: 46 KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney and Kearney Family YMCA are teaming up to host a free youth basketball