Legislation would keep commercial development out of Liberty State Park

Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin has been a strong advocate for the Liberty State Park Protection Act, a bill that would protect and preserve the park from large commercial development projects.

“There have been plans for condos, luxury housing, commercial water parks, a 25,000-seat amphitheater, a hotel, recently a marina at the peaceful south side of the park for 300 yachts, and the stadium proposal for a 100,000-seat race car venue was proposed last June,” Pesin said.

Pesin’s father, Morris Pesin, is known as the father of Liberty State Park. He spent 19 years advocating developing for the park and another 16 years trying to preserve it as a large open space for the people.

“Can you imagine if anyone proposed encroaching on Central Park for even one inch of the park? It’s a beacon of hope. Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty can only be accessed from two places in the world — Liberty Park is one of them,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, who is one of the bill’s sponsors.

The park is regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection. In 2015, the Meadowlands Agency Consolidation Act gave the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority control of the development of the park. Under the new bill, both agencies would be prohibited from considering any commercialized development other than small-scale activities.

“So, for example, bicycle, kayak rentals, a temporary ice skating rink in the winter time for kids to enjoy, making use of the historic Central Jersey Railroad Terminal, food concessions, things like that, mall-scale commercial activities but they would be kept outside of that interior 235-acre area that’s preserved for restoration,” Mukherji said.

Public input is one the most important parts of the bill.

“The bill would require a full public process with public hearings and a public comment period,” Mukherji said.

The Department of Environmental Protection says they’re reviewing the proposed bill and are open to working together with sponsors. Mukherji says the next step is for the bill to be considered by committees in both houses.