Opponents seek to mislead on proposed LSP marina | Opinion
When state officials developed a master plan for Liberty State Park in the late 1970s, they envisioned a park with a host of amenities that people from the surrounding communities could enjoy. The plan, developed with input from then-Gov. Brendan Byrne, called for the southern end of the park to include a fishing pier, picnic area, restaurants and a marina. That proposal was later reaffirmed in a 1983 action plan and again in a 1987 Senate report.
It is clear from each of these documents that the vision for this beautiful urban park has always included plans for waterfront recreation, and the creators of the park never intended this land to become neglected as it has today.
Recently, Suntex Marinas developed a proposal, bringing these early plans to fruition, a plan that would offer residents precisely the kind of activities called for when the park was originally preserved. But during a recent protest at the park and again in a pair of Op-Eds published last month, opponents of the plan have attempted to portray the proposed marina as a playground for millionaires on yachts, making it inaccessible to the millions of people who visit Liberty State Park each year.
In fiery rhetoric designed to scare, the protesters decried the loss of "recreational opportunities for the hardworking taxpayer in an irreplaceable setting." This statement could not be further from the truth for the following reasons:
- The proposed marina is aimed at middle-class boaters and fishermen, not, as opponents would have you believe, wealthy yachters.
- Studies completed in advance of this project show there is a real need for marina space among small boat owners.
- Suntex has planned several recreational opportunities open to the public, including a children's sailing school, a waterfront restaurant and a boat club that will allow residents access to sailboats and other watercraft, all for a nominal fee.
- Suntex has agreed to restore the dilapidated public boat launch that is all but unusable in its current condition.
- The plan calls for Suntex to build a public fishing pier for park guests.
All of this will be done at our expense without any taxpayer dollars, adding to the area's recreational opportunities, not limiting them.
More importantly, as part of the plan, Suntex has agreed to take on the repair and maintenance of the bulkhead at the northern edge of the park. According to the State Department of Environmental Protection that will save the state $43 million.
And yet, in their Op-Ed, opponents of the plan dismissed the substantial savings to taxpayers that comes with the proposed pier. They claim, "other monies are available to fix the bulkhead." The other monies they refer to are taxpayer's dollars, plain and simple.
Furthermore, opponents seek to portray any changes to the park as the plotting of evil despots intending on taking away the public's right to enjoy this urban gem. What they don't say, and likely never will, is that Suntex is offering a vast upgrade to what has become a neglected portion of the park.
The opponents have depicted our agreement with the state DEP as cronyism conducted at the behest of the current governor. But due to delays forced by the opposition, our fate will now be decided by the administration of incoming governor, Phil Murphy. However, despite the attempts to derail or delay our project, we are confident that our plan is strong enough to win support of the incoming governor, who will no doubt see the benefits Suntex is offering to the community.
We have found the opposition from local elected officials disappointing and disheartening. We at Suntex have always been dedicated supporters of Jersey City and its current administration, additionally we have been immensely accommodating to the city's needs. Now officials have cast aspersions on the company and the project, without so much as a phone call to discuss our plans.
And yet, as plans take shape for a golf course in the park, we've heard no such protests from either elected officials or the Friends of Liberty State Park.
Let me be clear -- we support the Friends of Liberty State Park. We have in the past and will continue to donate to their tireless advocacy. Their passion for the park is admirable, in fact, our interests are in every way aligned: To keep Liberty State Park a destination for families and visitors throughout New Jersey to enjoy green space and recreational opportunities.
Where we differ with the Friends is that where they see an area in danger, we see an area in need.
We are confident that once the public has been given the facts about what we offer the park, this project will be welcomed with open arms.
Ron TenEyck is a Senior Vice President at Suntex Marinas.
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2 ... roposed_liberty_stat.html