Liberty State Park, a spacious 1120-acre backyard in the heart of Jersey City, has attracted more than five million visitors per year since it opened to the public in 1976.
But now, it is also attracting developers who want to build near the park, seeing it as a major amenity.
Relatively new projects in the area include: the Liberty National Golf Club (finished in 2006); the recent expansion of the Liberty Science Center; a proposed hotel and conference center on Philip Street across from the Science Center; and three condominium towers to be built near the golf club.
Within the park, it’s a different story. There were efforts to stop development for years on park property.
One of those scuttled projects was a privatized water park that was advocated by former mayor Bret Schundler.
Many of the opposition efforts were led by the Friends of Liberty State Park (FOLSP), the advocacy group that works with the state to maintain the state park and keep it from being developed for any purpose besides open space.
However, Sam Pesin, the president of the Friends of Liberty State Park, said last week that he is not surprised by the current projects taking place around the park.
He said the park is serving a magnet for newcomers to the city.
He said his father, Liberty State Park founder Morris Pesin, in a speech to the Jersey City City Council in the 1960s, envisioned that the park would become an economic catalyst in the years to come.
“My father and his creating of the park gave the idea to the developers and the city to go ahead with the revitalizations that took place on the waterfront in the 1970s and 1980s,” Pesin said.The allure of the park
Pesin said what was once “waterfront wasteland with decaying piers and decaying railroad tracks” has now become “a free and green park” that continues to bring in new admirers.
Pesin has also heard from local real estate agents that it is being used as a selling point to entice people buy homes in the area.
The three towers coming to the park area are known as the “Residences at Liberty” and are slated to be 35, 43, and 50 stories. They will be built by Massachusetts-based Willowbend Development, who are also the developers of Liberty National.
A half-mile away from the park is Port Liberte, the community of luxury condominiums and townhouses built in the early 1990s that looks out at not only the park but also offer views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Pesin hopes the new residents will maintain the park as a valuable resource.
“I hope people who live around Liberty State Park become responsible stewards of the park,” Pesin said. “The combination of the park, the Hudson River and New York Bay – what an inspiring sight.” Comments on the story can be sent to email@example.com