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Liberty State Park News

Liberty State Park is a vast amount of open land, reclaimed from old industrial and railroad land, facing the Statue of Liberty in New Jersey. Walking through the (barely-used) facility most days is quite eerie (and beautiful): the lower Manhattan skyline appears to be sitting all by itself in an empty field.

Unfortunately, developers have been salivating to carve up the land since the park's inception. They apply constant pressure to put in water parks, golf courses, amphitheatres, and other money-making ventures--so far with no results, thanks to vigilant friends of the park.

Recently, though, I've noticed three separate encroachments on the park's open space. After the 9/11 tragedy, a triage area was set up in the old railroad station, but the anticipated flood of emergency cases never materialized--it's now something called the "WTC Family Assistance Center." This occupies a small amount of space, but for some reason a huge adjacent section of the park (including a pedestrian bridge along the Hudson) was made inaccessible through barricades and permanently stationed cops. Park benches, walkways, and waterfront have all been cordoned off. Not to be unpatriotic, but I can't see any purpose for the land-grab, other than "because we can."

Another big chunk of grassy land was torn up next to the Marina for a permanent parking lot; during working hours it's used as a bus transfer and pickup point, but the rest of the time it just sits there. This huge expanse of asphalt was "prettified" with little stunted pine trees held up with stakes, and hundreds of feet of plastic white picket fence.

Finally, within the last week, "Mount Liberty" suddenly appeared in the landscaped area across from the bus lot. This twenty-foot-high, hundred-foot-long mound of dirt--fill material for some as yet unspecified project--was just plopped on top of the grass (the same spot where I saw the pheasants a few months back). It's covered with straw and some kind of turquoise powder, and fenced in with crappy-looking sheets of plastic. In order for dumptrucks to access it from the cobblestone road, white gravel was poured willy-nilly on the grass.

I hate to say it, but giving the public a park and then taking it away whenever it's convenient is just low-class; New Jersey ought to be capable of better.
- tom moody 11-24-2001 7:48 pm [link] [15 comments]