More than 100 people signed up for an effort last weekend to help clean up Liberty State Park in Jersey City after the park sustained unprecedented damage to many of its buildings and spaces during Hurricane Sandy.
While some facilities in the park were expected to reopen last week, including a restaurant, marina, and the Grove of Remembrance, others will likely be closed for several months while the full scale of the damage is assessed and then repaired.
With approximately four million visitors each year, Liberty State Park is New Jersey’s most popular state park, according to Lawrence Hajna, a spokesman with the Department of Environmental Protection.
The park includes views of the Statue of Liberty, beautiful unobstructed views of the New York sky line, and is home to Liberty Science Center, a marina, a nature center, and Empty Sky, New Jersey’s 9/11 memorial.
According to Sam Pesin, president of the Friends of Liberty State Park, Sandy’s “tidal surge brought five feet of water into the now ruined historic [Central Railroad of New Jersey] Terminal’s first floor. The Nature Interpretive Center had flood damage. Mold is setting in. The Liberty Walk promenade was damaged. A third of the pavers were blown away. The Jersey Avenue footbridge connecting Liberty State Park to…downtown was pushed 30 feet from its location and is [currently] unusable.”
‘Some parts of the park may be closed for six to nine months.’ – Robert W. Rodriguez
The hurricane, and the wind and water that came with it, have significantly hurt the park’s infrastructure, Rodriguez said,
“We suffered significant damage to our structures – the terminal building, bathrooms, the Nature Center,” Rodriguez said. “It’s considerable damage that we’re talking about. There’s complete infrastructure that has to be [rebuilt].”
Assessing the damage alone, he said, will continue well into January.
“Some parts of the park may be closed for six to nine months,” Rodriguez added.
The Liberty Science Center did not sustain major damage and has already reopened to the public.
An ‘anticipated’ need for helping hands
Park officials expect that cleanup days will be planned in the future. Anyone interested in rebuilding or assisting the park should check the Liberty State Park website often at www.LibertyStatePark.org.
Friends of Liberty State Park can be reached through its own website at www.folsp.org. The organization will also post updates about the park’s progress and volunteer opportunities in the coming weeks and months.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.