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Testimony given by the HRWC President to the Jersey City Council on June 24, 2020, to stop commercialization of Liberty State Park

My Name is Don Stitzenberg and I am President of the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy.  I am speaking on behalf of the 1,000+ members of the Conservancy and I am here to support Resolution 20-441 Urging NJ to pass the Liberty State Park (LSP) Protection Act.

The Waterfront Conservancy is a volunteer organization that works with the NJDEP to oversee the construction and maintenance of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway which runs for 18.6 miles from Bayonne to the GW Bridge.  The two miles of Walkway in LSP is the cornerstone of the entire Walkway.

As I am sure everyone on this call knows, the Walkway and the public parks it connects have become a vital recreational asset for the general public of the waterfront communities in NJ, especially Jersey City.  The Walkway and Liberty State Park have literally risen “from the ashes” of industrial ruin that dominated the Waterfront in the 1970’s and are now the primary fresh air outlet for the public who cannot afford exclusive, private memberships.

In this time of extreme social, racial and public health stress, these public parks and the fresh air and stimulation they provide, especially LSP, welcome the general public of all economic levels and cultures in  Jersey City to safely escape the boredom and isolation imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As for the resolution before you tonight, in these highly emotional and sensitive times ,what can be more important to the residents of Jersey City and the general public in NJ than having open, free space as represented by LSP, to break the tension that fills our daily lives.

This resolution will show that Jersey City supports all classes and groups of citizens within the city rather than providing an opportunity for the 1% elite to confiscate our precious public land, especially Caven Point, by waving hollow dollars in our faces as they force the average citizen away from the waterfront.

The Conservancy has experience trying to work with the golf club. This experience has not been good as the golf club has forced the closing of the public Walkway during golf tournaments, stealing the public’s right to access to the waterfront and Caven Point for the benefit of the 1% Elite.  Expanding the golf course into Caven Point will only make these thefts of our rights more frequent and more egregious.

Considering today’s social, environmental, and public health issues confronting Jersey City and the nation, I believe that Jersey City Council, in good conscious, must support the efforts in Trenton to protect LSP.

Last night, the Jersey City Planning Board took a major step for the public at large by unanimously rejecting a developer’s proposal for a private enclave park on the Jersey City Waterfront. The Conservancy respectfully urges the Jersey City Council to take another step for its citizens and enthusiastically adopt the resolution 20-441. I am confident you will do the right thing for all of Jersey City’s residents.

I thank you for the opportunity to address the Council and I am happy to answer any questions.


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