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September 11, 2006


Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994



(06/50) EDISON -- Emphasizing the importance of preserving New Jersey's historic landmarks, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced the investment of $1.8 million in capital funding to begin repairing and restoring Edison Memorial Tower in Edison State Park, Middlesex County.

"The Edison Tower is a priceless piece of New Jersey's history, and yet, it has been closed to the public for the past decade because of deferred maintenance," Commissioner Jackson said. "Thanks to Governor Corzine's leadership, this year's state budget allows us to begin restoring this monument. But far more needs to be done, and the November ballot offers our residents an opportunity to help protect all of our state parks, historic sites and wildlife areas."

Built in 1937, the 131-foot, cast-concrete art deco tower is crumbling.

Throughout New Jersey, other historic sites, state parks and wildlife management areas also have gone without regular maintenance and much-needed capital improvements because there is no stable source of state funding for such projects. Today, overdue repairs, restorations and improvements will cost an estimated $250 million.

On Nov. 7, New Jersey voters will consider a constitutional amendment that would provide a dedicated source of funding -- $15 million a year until 2015 and $32 million annually beginning in 2016 -- for maintenance and capital improvements at state parks, historic sites and wildlife areas. Without requiring any new taxes, Public Question 2 would allow revenues already generated through the Corporate Business Tax Fund to be used for maintenance and capital-improvement projects.

The Edison Memorial Tower's location marks the spot of the archaeological remains of Thomas Edison's 1876 industrial research complex. The tower site is listed on both the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places and is significant for its architectural design and archaeology.

The tower and Menlo Park Museum, also constructed in 1937, were dedicated Feb. 11, 1938 to commemorate Thomas Edison's 91st birthday.

The DEP, the Township of Edison and the nonprofit Edison Memorial Tower Corporation jointly administer the tower and the museum in Edison State Park.

"Edison thanks Governor Corzine and Commissioner Jackson for recognizing the enormous contribution of Thomas Edison to both our township and the state," Mayor Jun Choi said. "We are thrilled with this significant step and look forward to, once again, proudly displaying Edison as the birthplace of a technological revolution that forever changed the world."

Nancy Zerbe, chair of the Edison Memorial Tower Corporation, said, "We are very pleased that the state has committed funding to restore a site that had such a tremendous impact on modern lives."

Also announced today was the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' recognition of the site for its achievements as the world's first industrial research and development laboratory devoted to developing new technology.

While working in his Menlo Park laboratory, Edison received nearly 400 patents from 1876 to 1882. Edison and his staff developed the first system of incandescent electric lighting, the phonograph and the electric railroad car. His innovations at the site included wireless transmissions, the carbon button transmitter, and the discovery of the Edison Effect, the foundation for the electronics field.

The Menlo Park Museum contains a collection of Edison's inventions and products from the Thomas A. Edison Company.

State Senator Barbara Buono, who chairs the Senate Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, thanked Governor Corzine and the DEP for providing capital funding to help restore the Edison Memorial Tower. "The restoration of important historical sites like this one will help further promote tourism in New Jersey," she said.

Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes Jr. said, "I remember in the 1990s telling visitors from all over the world that they could not enter the Edison Memorial Tower, primarily because of its state of disrepair. Today's commitment of funding will help to restore this important landmark back to the national treasure it is. I look forward to the day when we can proudly invite visitors to come and enjoy this vital piece of our heritage, instead of turning them away."

"This grant confirms Governor Corzine's and the Department of Environmental Protection's commitment to preserving historical sites that reflect the vibrancy of our great nation," said Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. "The legacy of Thomas Edison, which is embodied in the Edison Tower, is synonymous with the American experience."




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Last Updated: September 11, 2006