New NJ Bill May Open the Door for Liberty State Park Privatization

NY/NJ Baykeeper is deeply concerned about the intentions of S2807 and urges further discussion before the bill moves any further. The bill would appropriate $250 million to implement Park plans recommended by a design Task Force that includes several members who have consistently voiced opposition to the much needed Liberty State Park Protection Act and support for park privatization.

Liberty State Park visitors could benefit tremendously from the proposed funding if applied to active and passive recreation amenities, such as ball fields, picnic areas and improved public access to and around the People’s Park. However, as it stands this bill negates the protections against the development of Caven Point Peninsula and other natural areas afforded by the Liberty State Park Protection Act and may be opening the door for privatization efforts, such as constructing a large sports stadium. This notion threatens the longstanding consensus among community members to keep the Park free, green and accessible to all.

Liberty State Park has been the target of countless privatization and commercialization proposals since the park opened, most recently were plans to destroy Caven Point Natural Area to create three golf holes for the adjacent ultra-exclusive Liberty National Golf Course and to build a Formula One Racetrack in the Park.

The Friends of Liberty State Park, NY/NJ Baykeeper and over 120 local, state, and regional organizations have worked for decades to fight off these privatization proposals including golf courses, stadiums, and amusement parks, which would shrink the park’s open space available to the surrounding urban community.

A strong bill already exists - the Liberty State Park Privatization Act - which protects the intention of our state parks - free and full public access to green space. Plans for Liberty State Park, an oasis amidst one of the most densely populated and highly developed areas on the globe, should be aimed at creating healthy, green open space, active recreation fields and natural wildlife habitat that are forever available for the enjoyment of future generations. Efforts that seek to commercialize, monetize, and politicize public trust resources have no place at the local, state and national treasure that is Liberty State Park.