Friday, May 13, 2016

Opposition kills NJDEP plan to develop Liberty State Park


The state is dropping its widely opposed plans to privatize portions of Liberty State Park, which had included proposals to build an amusement park, indoor sports arena, and hotel.
Tom Johnson reports today in NJ Spotlight:
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin dropped the bombshell near the end of a mostly routine hearing before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee yesterday.
“The bottom line is this: We are going to do nothing with the park,’’ he said, when questioned about a much criticized report released last fall on how to commercialize the Jersey City park, the most popular in the state system with more than 4 million visitors annually.
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“We are done with Liberty State Park,’’ Martin said, blaming the decision on opposition from the Jersey City mayor, Senate President, Friends of Liberty State Park.
The surprise announcement comes after months of controversy over the Christie administration’s plans for the park, which had been kept under wraps. With the state park system strapped for funds -- an issue that came up earlier in the hearing -- the administration is developing efforts to add private amenities and events at state-run facilities to make them more self-supporting.
Those plans have come under fire, but most heatedly over proposals at Liberty State Park, an urban facility offering sparse open space to Hudson County residents with awesome views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Its annual budget is $3.5 million, but only $1.5 million in revenue is now generated by concessions.
“I hope this is the final nail in the coffin for the commercialization of the park,’’ said Sam Pesin, president of Friends of Liberty State Park. “It was a major threat to the park.’
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