Sam Pesin and I have a simple disagreement over the 220 acres of Liberty State Park that are currently fenced off from the public for environmental remediation. He wants that land to be left as natural area with at best a few acres of lawn maintained at its perimeter where people can lie down or fly a kite.
I believe the Park already includes a significant number of lawn spaces. So, in addition to maintaining 200 acres of natural area with walking paths for family enjoyment, I would like to see the 20 acres wedged between the Liberty Industrial Park and the City’s current car pound (soon to become an indoor soccer and tennis center) dedicated to more active family uses. I have made three proposals for this land: a swimming complex where families, after picnicking or walking along the Park’s walking paths, can cool off during the heat of summer, a new children’s day camp (Camp Liberty) and a science farm where parents can show their children how food is grown or allow them to pet a lamb.
Sam Pesin opposes all three ideas, not to mention, it appears, the construction of a golf course to the south of the Park, an indoor athletic complex to the Park’s west and the expansion of Liberty Science Center. He is entitled to his opinion. But in my opinion, all of these improvements will greatly increase the quality of life in Jersey City by increasing the recreational and educational opportunities available to families.
The Park’s Development Corporation would like these swimming pools to generate revenue to support the Park’s general maintenance. I am not adverse to that, but it is not important to me. I don’t believe that parks have to be self-financing. I would be perfectly happy to see the state pay for the construction of the swimming pools and the general maintenance of the Park’s natural areas and walking trails out of its general revenues. If this were the course pursued, the state could strike the admission fee for the swimming pools at whatever level it chose, and could target the number of daily users it considered optimal, without commercial consideration. None of this will appease Sam Pesin. He does not care how big the swimming pools are, what admission price they charge, or if they are state operated or privately vendored. He wants this 20-acre plot of land left as natural area or law space — period.
Again, I respect Sam’s right to his own vision. But I contine to point out that most Jersey City families believe that 200 additional acres of natural area are plenty. What we want are more opportuntiies to spend enjoyable time together. Allowing families visiting the park to enjoy a picnic, visit an event at the Central Railroad Terminal, walk along trails traversing the Park’s natural areas, and then, without having to get into their car, be able to go for a dip in a pool at the Park’s edge, would be wonderful!