MEADOWLANDS AND BEYOND – The American Dream at Meadowlands on Route 3 in East Rutherford will advance further after the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on July 27 gave out water quality permits to Triple Five Developers for the proposed indoor amusement and water parks expansion, according to news reports.
This comes a month after the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission approved the environmental plan for the 21.75 acres park. The New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) have also given a green light to the expansion plans.
Despite the recent approvals, the project still needs federal permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, and a few financial and legal obstacles remain.
The $3.7 billion American Dream project, previously known as Xanadu, includes a Dreamworks Animation theme park, attractions, retail and other venues. The retail and entertainment venue will also have a water park, ice skating rink, indoor ski park and theaters along with nearly 1.7 million square feet of retail space and 150,000 square feet of fine dining and restaurants.
The developers have agreed to purchase 5.41 acres of wetlands credits to pay for filling in 5.41 acres of wetlands for the water park, and has also agreed to preserve the 128-acre Walden swamp, which is located on the western portion of the Meadowland Sports Complex.
Triple Five also recently sought to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the New York Giants and New York Jets against the project expansion. The professional sports teams sought an injunction in June to prevent the developer from reviving the project. The lawsuit filed in a state court in Bergen County alleges that Triple Five did not receive their consent to expand the project and also cites traffic impacts.
Area mayors have also expressed concerns about potential traffic impacts due to the expansion and have considered joining the lawsuit.
“My municipality has had to deal with significant traffic issues and problems whether on Route 3 or on our local roads, almost every work day when our population goes from 17,000 full time residents to a daytime population of 60,000,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli during the June 27 Meadowlands Commission meeting. “Everybody knows what is happening with traffic [and] there is nothing out there to solve it.”
Local environmental groups have also expressed opposition to the project.
“This is not only bad for the environment, but they are looking for taxpayers to fund this environmental mess. A billion dollars worth of subsidies have been given when there is supposedly no money for police, firefighters, education or money to buy open space. The public doesn’t want it, but the pay to play machine does,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This will not only take money from the tax payers wallets, but will cause more traffic, more air pollution, more water pollution, and more flooding in an area that has too much of that already.”