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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2/13/03
03/12

 

Contact: Amy Cradic,
609-984-1795

Private Landowner Damages Area of Palisades Interstate Park:
NJ DEP and Park Commission File Complaint in State Superior Court

(03/12) Trenton— In response to a flagrant destruction of public parkland, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey against property owner Andrew Krieger and his employee David Rodriguez for bulldozing an acre of land in Palisades Interstate Park, Bergen County.

"The citizens of New Jersey have been deprived of and will continue to be deprived of the use and enjoyment of natural resources that were destroyed as a result of Mr. Krieger's recklessness," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "This was a reprehensible act that shows a total lack of respect for public property and of the law."

Damages to approximately one acre of park property included the destruction of trees and other vegetation, the excavation of approximately one mile of trails, the destruction of an old stone wall and the disturbance of two small, intermittent streams located within Palisades Interstate Park, which is owned by the State of New Jersey and leased long-term for park use to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

Prior to bulldozing the land, Andrew Krieger, who owns property adjacent to Palisades Interstate Park, met with representatives of the PIPC and the DEP Green Acres Program in February 2002 to discuss a potential land exchange proposal. After being advised of the necessary procedures needed for a land trade, Krieger notified the Commission and the DEP that he no longer desired to pursue an exchange.

Several months later between March and May 2002, despite withdrawing his proposal to exchange land and without any notice to the State of New Jersey or the PIPC, Krieger proceeded to illegally clear an acre of the park adjacent to his residence. In addition to destroying public property, construction materials were illegally stored on state property and nearby Bergen County park property.

"In my 20 years of public land management I have never seen a case as severe as this, where an adjacent property owner took such a deliberate and willful action in damaging public park property," said PIPC Superintendent James Hall. "The Palisades Interstate Park Commission considers pursing any and all legal remedies for this kind of deliberate damage imperative to the management and care of land under their trust on behalf of the public."

With the assistance of the state Attorney General's Office, the DEP and the PIPC are seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Andrew Krieger and his employees on behalf of the citizens of New Jersey, as well as statutory penalties and other appropriate relief.

 

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