After the Liberty State Park Conservation, Recreation, and Community Inclusion Act was amended to cut funding down from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and to increase the size of the Liberty State Park Task Force, state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack of the 33rd Legislative District has announced that Caven Point will be preserved.
“The legislature stands on the verge of a historic investment in Liberty State Park,” Stack said of the Liberty State Park legislation. “This investment is only the beginning of what is going to be a community-led effort to finally bring attention, resources and amenities to this great public park. I am committed to fighting not just for this $50 million investment but for much more to help implement the Liberty State Park Task Force and DEP recommendations. I am committed also to making sure all residents of Jersey City and Hudson County participate in the future of the Park.”
Stack, a primary sponsor of the Liberty State Park Conservation, Recreation, and Community Inclusion Act, praised the bill as an opportunity to revitalize the park.
“This is an exciting time for Hudson County and NJ,” Stack said. “The status quo has been allowed to prevail for too long at Liberty State Park. The status quo is contaminated land that is off limits to public use. The status quo is the same old voices dominating the discussion. The status quo is run down facilities and a park that lacks relevance for too many communities, that lacks activities for too many families and lacks the ability to truly serve as a public asset.”
The bill is known as S-2807 in the state senate and A-4264 in the state assembly, co-sponsored by state Senator Sandra Cunningham of the 31st Legislative District, and state Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco of the 32nd Legislative District.
Stack continued:”When the Legislature passes S2807/A4264, it will mark a turning point in the history of the Park. For the first time, a diverse group of stakeholders will be brought together to help create a new master plan. For the first time, there will be real public funding and political support behind making investments in the park. For the first time, there will be a commitment to ballfields, athletic facilities, a community center, cultural activities and improved transportation.”
The legislation has largely been criticized by opponents because it did not have restrictions on large-scale commercialization. Additionally, many were concerned that Caven Point was not protected from development from the billionaire owner of the Liberty National Golf Course, Paul Fireman.
Protecting Caven Point
Recent amendments to the Liberty State Park legislation on June 27 dropped funding from the NJDEP from $250 million to $50 million, and expanded the task force from 17 to 23 members with the Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Senate President now having two appointments each. Following that, Stack said he will introduce a new bill to protect Caven Point, a nature-filled area in the south of the park.
“There is one part of the status quo that should remain as it is and that is Caven Point,” Stack said. “Caven Point is a unique public space and deserving of special consideration. The Task Force can and will have a discussion regarding what type of commercial or private activity is or is not appropriate in appropriate parts of the park. Commercial activities – whether it is a museum, a restaurant, an athletic facility, a theatre, can be privately run under public oversight and procurement and enhance great public spaces and public enjoyment. The Task Force will have a discussion regarding the size and scope of possible amenities such as an athletic facility or community center. I strongly support including these items in the Park’s master plan but Hudson County residents deserve the chance to tell us what they want in the Park.”
Stack will be introducing additional legislation to make clear that Caven Point “shall remain as it does today – a nature habitat and public space.” He also added that the legislature “will pass S2807/A426, without amendments, and begin the public process of designing and funding historic investments into this great park.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.