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

Today I noticed that the police van stationed at the "buffer zone" around the Family Assistance Center is marked NJDOC--Dept of Corrections. This makes me wonder if the train station area is also housing an internment facility for 9/11 terror suspects. Or maybe prison labor is being used to sift WTC debris. Or maybe the DOC just loans out guards from time to time. A cursory web search gave no answers.
- tom moody 11-24-2001 10:05 pm [add a comment]

  • LSPC and FOLSPshould be in a possition to answer some of these questions or confirm your observations. This one does not look like it's been updated lately but there is a forum.

    - bill 11-26-2001 7:32 pm [add a comment]

    • This is from the FLSOP site; nothing is said about why a Department of Corrections van permanently guards the empty land around the Assistance Center:

      "On the 11th, the park became an evacuation and medical emergency triage site as well as a communications and transportation headquarters. NJ’s 'Reflection and Remembrance Observance' at the park on Sunday, 9/23, brought people together for a moving evening, and was shown statewide on cable TV. The 'Family Assistance Center' is still set-up in the Terminal to help victims’ families with emotional, legal and benefits advice.

      "Governor DiFrancesco is working with former Governors to plan a victims’ memorial on the lawn between the canal and the Terminal parking lot. At our 10/13 Fall Meeting, it was decided to present a plaque to the park staff, for display in the Visitors Center, and to plant trees next Spring in memory of the victims - both will be done in co-operation with the LSP Conservancy"

      - tom moody 11-26-2001 8:33 pm [add a comment]

      • The LSPC site says that FEMA and the Red Cross are operating out of the train station. FEMA is the feds. They work in cooperation with other agencies--who who knows what kind of emergency/law enforcement/internment powers they have? The weasely statement below, also from the LSPC site, about the paving over of the ten acres confirms my worst suspicions that business interests are using the "emergency" as cover for development as usual. That paving went in FAST.

        "The Liberty State Park Development Corporation and New Jersey Department of Transportation have deemed it necessary to agree with the proposed plan by the LSP Marina owners and the Liberty State Park Development Corporation to pave over ten acres of open space at Liberty park for bus drop-off lanes for commuters taking ferries across the Hudson.

        "The marina's contract with NJDEP required that these ten acres remain public open space and federal regulations ban commuter use of Liberty Park. However, the Friends and Conservancy understand the need to take emergency measures during this period of national crisis. We recognize that temporary provisions such as this will occur and that appropriate long-term solutions should and will be sought when planning conditions return to normal."

        I think this is bullshit: ferry traffic from Colgate has been minimal since 9/11.
        - tom moody 11-26-2001 8:45 pm [add a comment]

        • You may get a response from one of the officers of "freinds" if you contact them directly via e.mail. Otis may recognise one or other of the names.
          - bill 11-27-2001 12:03 am [add a comment]

  • As to your question as to why N.J.D.O.C. units were where you saw them...If you mean during on or after the attack on 9/11... go to Google Search Engine >click on njdoc.on that page #1>scroll down to the topic>The Corrections Connection News Center-Cert Emergency. Which I am a member. A 21 year veteran. Your 1920's term (Guards) doe's not exist's State Correction Officers who are sworn law enforcement officers. The only law we don't enforce is title:39 the motor vehicle code. Get back to me if you have any more questions.
    - 11-17-2003 3:23 pm [add a comment]

New Jersey Tax Dollars at Work

I walked through Liberty State Park today and discovered that the ten acres of paving installed (rapidly, last month) "in response to the 9/11 emergency" is now being completely removed! This is what I found after a couple of weeks absence: lightpoles gone, plastic picket fencing waiting to be hauled off, asphalt scraped off by heavy machines, and brand new concrete curbs and sidewalks busted up into little chunks. I guess Mount Liberty (the mountain of dirt I described above) will be spread around the site and reseeded in the springtime. Well, New Jersey taxpayers paid for this stupid boondoggle of paving and unpaving. But who were the beneficiaries? The Della Pello Contr. Co. is removing the asphalt, and I have no doubt that the Junior Soprano Paving Co. put in the original parking lot. Nothing like an emergency to grease the wheels of commerce. When they say "NJ Family Assistance Center," they're not kidding!
- tom moody 12-10-2001 9:51 pm [add a comment]

I'm happy to report that Liberty State Park is almost back to its old, half-assed-landscaped self. The barricades are down, Dept. of Corrections guards departed, the parking lot is now empty land again (albeit covered with straw and some weird turquoise stuff instead of grass) and the giant dirt pile is 3/4 gone. The golf course geese have moved over to the ex-parking lot and are happily crapping all over it. 9/11 hit the park like a massive anthrax vaccination, but the side affects are slowly fading; it's been interesting watching (in microcosm) how much energy we devote to tragedy after it happens.
- tom moody 12-31-2001 4:21 pm [add a comment]

That blue stuff is a bio-medium holding grass seed. They can blow in a lawn in an afternoon and that stuff is supposed to keep it from blowing or washing away before it takes.

- bill 12-31-2001 5:08 pm [add a comment]

What remains of the 20 foot high pile of fill dirt for the on-again, off-again parking lot at Liberty State Park--I'm calling it "Mount Liberty"--still stands. The south face is covered with swamp grasses and the top is still bald from tire tracks. Lately I've been climbing it, as it affords an exceptional view of the harbor, the downtown skyline, and to the west and south, the expanse of fenced-off marshland that bears the ominous warning signs: "No Trespassing: Hazardous Materials Area." I've never been able to see that land very well because I've never had a high enough vantage point. It's densely vegetated with cattails and low bushes, like the wetland it used to be, and at dusk it emits a peaceful hum of insect sounds and bird calls (I saw the pheasants again today, flying around in there). There's talk of having engineers go in and dig little rivulets to make it more like "authentic wetland," but I say leave it the f*ck alone. Now that it's cordoned off, just let nature have it back for awhile. OK?
- tom moody 6-19-2002 4:09 am [add a comment]

UPDATE: What I've been calling Mount Liberty (here's a picture) is no more. Turns out it was fill dirt for a newly landscaped section of the Park, down near the entrance at Audrey Zapp Drive. The dirt pile sat there for a lo-o-ong time.
- tom moody 11-17-2003 7:04 pm [add a comment]


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- Kurt Wegener (guest) 5-28-2022 7:46 pm [add a comment]

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- dave 5-28-2022 9:38 pm [add a comment]

- Skinny 5-28-2022 9:41 pm [add a comment]

Audrey Zapp drive!
- bill 5-30-2022 12:00 pm [add a comment]

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