State to present plan on Liberty State Park restoration

Public input sought on preliminary design

The Liberty State Park Natural Resource Restoration Project currently includes seven miles of trails, 72 acres of wetlands, and more.
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The Liberty State Park Natural Resource Restoration Project currently includes seven miles of trails, 72 acres of wetlands, and more.

The state Department of Environmental Protection will give a virtual public presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 20 regarding plans to remediate 234 acres of Liberty State Park.

The deadline to register is 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Last month, Gov. Phil Murphy and DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe announced that the DEP will spend tens of millions of dollars, primarily from monies recovered in lawsuits and settlements for natural resource damages, to rehabilitate portions of Liberty State Park for public access.

Some 234 acres of Liberty State Park have been closed to the public by a chain-link fence due to contamination from low levels of metals and hydrocarbons left over from when the site was used to deposit soil in the late 1800s.

The proposed restoration plan, called the Liberty State Park Natural Resource Restoration Project, aims to restore several habitats for a variety of species, including 72 acres of fresh and saltwater wetlands and 133 acres of upland maritime habitats.

According to the New Jersey Audubon Society, more than 239 species of birds have been identified in the park, not to mention diamondback terrapin and harbor seals that call the park home from time to time.

To remediate the land, the DEP will excavate and cap contaminated soil with clean soil, which will be planted with trees, grass, and other vegetation.

More accessible space

The proposed design is approximately 30 percent complete. According to the DEP, once the rehabilitation is complete, the project will increase the park’s accessible space by 40 percent.

As it currently stands, the plan includes seven miles of trails with wildlife observation structures, hills and knolls with views of the Jersey City and Manhattan skylines, more than 300 new parking spaces, and educational, and passive recreational opportunities.

According to the DEP, this rehabilitation will provide substantial benefit to all 1,121 acres of the park by linking previously developed and restored, but isolated, components of the park into one cohesive whole. It will provide better access to the park, improve water and air quality, reduce runoff, and help mitigate climate change.

The DEP will present the preliminary design proposal on Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. virtually. Attendees may ask questions and make comments during the meeting.

The DEP will also accept comments by an online survey with links given during the presentation, which will be sent the following day, on Oct. 21, to all those who register.

For those who miss the presentation, it will be recorded, and it along with the survey and comments link will be posted on social media and on  Liberty State Park’s website.  

The link to complete the survey and provide comments on the project will be open for 14 days following the presentation. It will close Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 8 a.m.

The project is expected to be fully designed by the summer of 2021, and construction is scheduled to begin by the fall of 2021.

To register for the virtual meeting go to https://www.njdepcalendar.com/calendar/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=654

For more information on the Liberty State Park Natural Resource Restoration Project go to https://nj.gov/dep/nrr/restoration/liberty-state-park.html

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.