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Cunningham Bill Would Establish ‘Ellis Island Advisory Commission’

Senator Cunningham in the Senate Chamber

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham which would establish the “Ellis Island Advisory Commission,” was unanimously approved today by the Senate State Government Committee.

“Ellis Island is a reminder of the long journey that millions of immigrants made to the United States in search of a better life,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “For those immigrants, New Jersey served as their first taste of America and it’s only fitting that this Commission be established to revive such an integral part of our local and national history.”

Under Senator Cunningham’s bill, S-1695, the Commission would be responsible for promoting the proposed Ellis Island Institute as an important cultural center and destination venue. It would also determine how to best utilize any State and private donations.

“Currently, the National Park Service and non-profit groups, such as Save Ellis Island, Inc. are working to create the Ellis Island Institute and conference center as a way to help preserve the Island’s history by putting vacant buildings to good use. The Institute would also create a tourist destination to help boost revenue and create jobs for the area,” said Senator Cunningham.

The Commission would also have to work with the State and City of New York, when necessary, to determine the best plan of action for the rehabilitation and protection of Ellis Island’s cultural and historic resources, said Senator Cunningham.

According to the bill, the 20-member Commission would include representatives from the Departments of Environmental Protection, Education, Health and Senior Services and Transportation; four members of the Legislature; and five Governor-appointed members with expertise in immigration, public health and the history of Ellis Island.

The Commission would have one year to report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature.

“Ellis Island is a significant part of American history. This Commission would help ensure that future generations are able to enjoy such an important landmark for years to come,” said Senator Cunningham.

This measure now heads to the full Senate for approval.


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