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Cunningham, Weinberg Legislation to Protect Liberty State Park Clears Senate

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Senator Loretta Weinberg, which would preserve Liberty State Park as a public green open space and would protect the site from privatization and inappropriate development, cleared the Senate today.

“Ensuring that the park continues to remain as a recreational area free for everyone to enjoy is crucial,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “It is a much-needed green space in the city’s densely populated concrete landscape and offers unique educational opportunities to the community. It is imperative that New Jersey residents and tourists are able to enjoy it for years to come.”

The bill, S-3357, would also create the Liberty State Park Advisory Committee which would assist the Department of Environmental Protections (DEP) in conserving, preserving, protecting, and improving the park. In carrying out its responsibilities, the committee would give consideration to the natural, historic, cultural, recreational, and scenic resources and the local, State, and national significance of Liberty State Park.

“Parks are bedrocks in the community, they give common space to neighbors and visitors regardless of class or social standing, and it is paramount that we preserve Liberty State Park for generations to come,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen).  “It’s obvious why private entities are eager to develop and monetize the land. Liberty State Park encompasses over 1,200 acres of land in Jersey City, with views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan skyline.  Its historical and cultural significance in Jersey City as well as New Jersey is something that must be protected.”

The bill would protect Liberty State Park from any future proposals to commercialize or privatize the state and national treasure.  In addition, the legislation would prohibit the DEP from considering any proposal to commercialize, develop, or privatize Liberty State Park, except as provided in the bill.

Under the bill, the DEP would be allowed to approve a concession, conveyance, lease, or other agreement with a private entity to provide small-scale commercial activities that directly enhance the experience of a visitor to Liberty State Park. The DEP would be required to develop a management plan for Liberty State Park in consultation with the committee within three years of enactment.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 21-13.