Outrage over plans to commercialize Liberty State Park

A report done on behalf of the state calling for the possible construction of a conference center or hotel (among other things) in Liberty State Park has drawn sharp criticism from Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.
After months of demands to have the report released, Gov. Christopher Christie unveiled the 18-page list of recommendations on Nov. 23. It details possible forms of development that would help Liberty State Park pay for itself. Although the park gets nearly four million visitors a year, it brings in slightly more than $1 million in revenue but costs nearly $3 million to operate. Under the Christie Administrations “Sustainable Parks” proposal, the report details some things that might be done to help the park pay for its own operations.
“The first page of the Christie Administration’s proposal essentially asks, ‘How can this park be turned into something that makes more money for the state?’” said Mayor Fulop. “That’s a recipe for destroying not just this park, but any park.”
With Hudson County among the most densely-populated in the state, open space is at a premium, Fulop said.
“An attack on Liberty State Park like this is really an attack on the quality of life for all residents,” Fulop said. “We intend on fighting back aggressively to protect this jewel of a park for Jersey City.”
Liberty State Park, which spans 1,600 acres on the bank of the Hudson River, sits directly behind the Statue of Liberty.
The Christie Administration’s proposal – which is just the latest in a series of efforts to commercialize the park – recommends drastic development of the park, including a low-rise hotel, a conference center, an indoor sports facility, and a second marina. The goal would be for the park to pay for itself – to, according to the plan, generate “enough new revenue to make the park self-sustaining.”
“Parks are a public amenity and decisions around keeping precious open space should not be based on dollars, but should be based on the quality of life,” Fulop said. “The criteria laid out by the state of New Jersey do not apply to any other park in New Jersey, and we believe Liberty State Park should not have different standards. We are going to fight this aggressively.”
The Fulop Administration has come out in favor of a policy of the park “making green and staying green at the same time.” This includes supporting events like this month’s Tough Mudder that brought 8,000 visitors to the park without changing the fundamental nature of the space. It also encompasses more public programming and some renovations, some of which are included in the Christie Administration proposal.
“These commercialization plans are exactly what the overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans have strongly opposed since the park opened 39 years ago,” said Sam Pesin, president of the Friends of Liberty State Park, a nonprofit aimed at conserving the space. “The broad public consensus has always been for a free open space park behind Lady Liberty.”
Beyond a general mention of a “stakeholder process,” the Christie Administration has released no specific information yet about what – if any – say the community will have in this decision.

Water flows again in parts of Jersey City, but repairs will take time

The best-case scenario for repairs to the water main break that has caused flooding and discolored water in parts of Hoboken and Jersey City since Sunday, Nov. 22 was that it would be resolved by Wednesday Nov. 25. The worse case would be several days after Thanksgiving, Hoboken’s mayor said at a press conference in front of City Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Officials in Hoboken and Jersey City announced Tuesday afternoon that the water was back on and a boil advisory for Hoboken was lifted in the wake of Sunday’s break of a 36 inch water main in southwest Hoboken that caused massive flooding and a widespread water outage.
Water has also returned to the Newport and Heights areas of Jersey City, but at mid-week some neighborhoods were still experiencing low pressure. The boil water advisory may be reenacted as repairs are made and residents are advised to continually check for updates online. The city will continue to supply water through trucks at various locations and anybody commuting into the city is still urged to take public transportation.
Hoboken will receive water from a Weehawken transmission line until the water break can be fully repaired, officials announced at a press conference.
“Hoboken has a backup water system and the system has been implemented” Mayor Dawn Zimmer said. “We are now getting our water from Weehawken. The boil advisory has been lifted, and I want to make it clear to everyone that Hoboken is open for business.”
As to when the break would be fully repaired, the mayor said she couldn’t say exactly.
“SUEZ [North Jersey Water company] is actively working on an alternative to reduce pressure in the system near the aqueduct in Jersey City,” she said. “Once the repair is made to the broken water valve in Jersey City the water main break in southwest Hoboken will be repaired as soon as possible. Full water restoration once the main transmission line in Southwest Hoboken is fixed could still take several additional days.”
Officials from the SUEZ North Jersey Water company — formerly United Water — said there was no water boil advisory necessary for Jersey City following the water main break along the Jersey City border. Reports of water discoloration throughout Jersey City, said SUEZ spokeswoman Madeline Power, were the result of harmless sediment in the pipes being lifted due to the change in water pressure.
She said some areas of the city such as the Heights and Newport, as well as Hoboken and Weehawken, are still dealing with low water pressure. At mid-week, Jersey City officials said some parts of Downtown were still without water.
“They can run their water for two minutes for it to clear their pipes, but there’s absolutely no water boil advisory,” said Power.
Powers said there’s no timeline for full restoration of water pressure.

JCMC EMT team wins first place in statewide competition

Jersey City Medical Center EMTs Devin McCabe and Robert Valdora finished first among all Basic Life Support teams in the 7th annual statewide EMS simulation competition in Atlantic City, which was held as part of the statewide Conference on EMS.
“We congratulate Devin and Robert on their success in being crowned as the top crew in the state,” said Joseph F. Scott, president/CEO, Jersey City Medical Center, a Barnabas Health facility. ”They represent the outstanding quality of the more than 300 EMS providers at Jersey City Medical Center.”
In addition to the EMTs, Jersey City Medical Center’s Department of Medicine residents and Ob/Gyn team also finished first in their respective statewide competitions this year.

Recent spree of shootings in Jersey City

Incidents of shootings continued to increase in Jersey City as police reported several more taking place across the city over last weekend.
On Grant Avenue, Jersey City police responded to a shooting just after 6 p.m. on Nov. 22 near Ocean Avenue. A 27-year-old Bergen Avenue man was shot multiple times.
The victim, according to public safety spokesperson Jennifer Morrill, was lying on the porch having sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was described by the responding officers as “extremely uncooperative,” as were the several witnesses at the scene, none of whom were willing to provide information to police to assist with the investigation.
Shell casings were recovered from the scene as were projectiles that fell from the victim’s clothing while at the Jersey City Medical Center-Barnabas Health.
Morrill said the victim has eleven prior arrests for charges that include narcotics distribution and burglary, with four felony convictions. The investigation is ongoing.
Another shooting took place at Neptune and Ocean avenues just before 8 p.m. on Nov. 22 in which a 24-year-old man from New Heckman Drive suffered non life-threatening injuries to his leg.
Officers on patrol heard multiple gunshots in the area and found the victim lying in the street. The victim attempted to flee the scene on foot but collapsed. He told police he was unable to identify the gunman. The victim, according to Morrill, has multiple prior arrests that include weapons offenses. He was transported to the Jersey City Medical Center-Barnabas Health and the investigation is ongoing.

Newark man arrested for alleged ax attack in Newport Mall

A 24-year-old Newark man was arrested by officers from the Jersey City Police Department’s Warrant Squad, along with agents from the U.S. Marshals Service, after he allegedly attacked two people with an ax in Newport Mall on Nov. 21.
According to Jennifer Morrill, spokesperson for the Jersey City Department of Public Safety, he was the suspect in a targeted domestic incident that took place around 9 p.m. He allegedly attempted to attack his former girlfriend, who was at work at the mall, but instead allegedly struck the store manager with an axe causing severe head trauma. A second victim, a male employee, wrestled the axe from the suspect and sustained injuries that are considered not severe.
The suspect was apparently apprehended in a family member’s home in Newark, and has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, unlawful possession of a weapon, criminal attempt homicide, and stalking.

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