State is walking away from potential development at Liberty State Park, DEP commissioner says


By Patrick Villanova | The Jersey Journal
on May 12, 2016

The white flag has been raised and the battle for Liberty State Park's future appears to be over. 

The head of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said today that he is no longer looking into ways to bring development to the park, adding that state officials never had concrete plans for the park privatization in the first place. 

"The bottom line is we made the decision that we're going to do nothing in the park," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said in response to a question posed by state Sen. Sandra Cunningham during a Senate Budget and Appropriations hearing.

"We're not going to spend any time, any more money."

Martin's comments come six months after the DEP released an 18-page report outlining potential development projects -- which included a hotel, amusement park and amphitheater -- to be built on 38 of Liberty State Park's 1,200 acres. 

Liberty State Park advocates 'counting down' the days until Christie leaves office
Liberty State Park advocates 'counting down' the days until Christie leaves office
Friends of Liberty State Park held its annual recognition luncheon at Liberty House Restaurant, with roughly 200 people in attendance.

Instead, Martin said the DEP will now look to its 38 other parks and 800,000 acres it manages for other opportunities for investment.  

"A lot of those amenities would have helped the community but it's just not worth the resources anymore," he said, alluding to the ardent "push back" the state received from park advocates, noting Friends of Liberty State Park president Sam Pesin by name. 

When reached by phone this afternoon, Pesin was cautiously optimistic and measured in his response to the news out of Trenton. 

"If this is true, that they're giving up the plans, it does show that they have listened to the strong opposition of the public, of the mayor (Steve Fulop) and the Hudson County delegation," Pesin said. "I think they knew that if they were going to push privatization in the park, they were going to have to go against overwhelming opposition."






Photo: The annual Friends of Liberty State Park awards luncheon took place at Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Pictured: Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. Michael Dempsey | The Jersey Journal