‘Millionaire’s Marina’ will ruin NJ’s most popular park, Jersey City says
JERSEY CITY — The state's second-largest city is suing the Christie administration over plans to develop portions of the most visited park in New Jersey.
The development plan for Liberty State Park was revealed months ago. It allows for a developer to expand the park's northern marina and add a second marina, a restaurant and other buildings to the park's southern end.
State officials say the deal is needed because the developer will pick up the cost and responsibility of repairing the park's deteriorating bulkhead — an undertaking that the state estimates could cost as much as $43 million.
But the plan has whipped up fierce local opposition from City Hall, conservation activists and the park's volunteer stewards, who've dubbed the proposed development a "millionaire's marina" that will block the park's sweeping views of Liberty and Ellis islands and the water.
Mayor Steven Fulop on Tuesday was expected to announce details of a lawsuit against the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Every year, more than 4 million people visit Liberty State Park. The 1,200 acres on the Hudson River provide ferry access to the Statue of Liberty and includes the "Empty Sky" 9/11 memorial. The area, once a trash-strewn railway terminus, now offers urban dwellers a green respite from the hustle and bustle of city streets.
The nonprofit Friends of Liberty State Park says the development plan "would ruin LSP's 'Central Park' true purpose of people's enjoyment of the peaceful openness of our urban waterfront haven for picnics, jogging, walking, bicycling, fishing, relaxing and taking in the expansive open harbor views looking southward toward the Verrazano Bridge."
NY/NJ Baykeeper, an environmental watchdog group, in November called the southside marina plan "a major threat to the public’s access to the precious waterfront open space and open harbor vistas that this park provides."
According to a copy of the proposed lease agreement obtained by the Friends of Liberty State Park, the state would lease Suntex Marinas 13 acres of land and 32 acres of water for the southern marina, and 2 acres of land and 8 acres of water to expand the existing northern marina.
The lease would allow Suntex to build slips, a 24-hour fueling facility, restrooms, a marina store, a restaurant and office space.
Suntex would pay the state 4 to 5 percent of gross restaurant revenues; 10 percent of gross marina revenues until 2027, 15 percent until 2037, and 20 percent after that; 2 percent of gross fuel sales; and 4 percent of all other revenues.
Suntex would be able to deduct up to $25 million in rent over the first 15 years for costs related to the bulkhead reconstruction and maintenance.
The agreements calls for new buildings to follow the Richardsonian Romanesque style of the park's Jersey Central Railroad Terminal and asks that the developer avoid long, uninterrupted walls that block views of Manhattan and Liberty and Ellis islands.
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