FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2021
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
(21/P030) TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection this week convened the first meeting of a Liberty State Park Design Task Force charged by Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette to consider public feedback when working with the DEP to develop conceptual and detailed design plans for the Jersey City park. The task force, created by Administrative Order, will help ensure that design outcomes are responsive to the needs of the park’s host community, its stakeholders, and the broader public.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to enhance Liberty State Park for the benefit of all people,” said Commissioner LaTourette. “We can only seize that opportunity through deep engagement with residents and stakeholders interested in the preservation, planning, and improvement of the park. As DEP continues the public engagement we started last year, this task force will be responsible for advising my colleagues and me on the finer design details so that we can together ensure that DEP’s plans for the park will meet the diverse needs of our communities.”
The task force is co-chaired by Olivia Glenn, DEP’s Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Justice and Equity, and John Cecil, DEP’s Director of Parks and Forestry, and includes 15 non-voting advisory members. Task force convenings will be focused on aiding DEP in operationalizing public feedback received at design milestones. While task force convenings will not be broadcasted, DEP will continue its ongoing Liberty State Park public participation process, both in-person and online. As DEP advances its design concepts with advice from the task force, the agency will host routine plan development presentations at major design milestones to solicit further public comment.
The DEP has committed to developing a plan to remediate and restore 235 acres within the interior of Liberty State Park that has long been closed to the public due to environmental contamination dating back decades. The interior restoration is fully funded by DEP, utilizing monies from DEP’s successful prosecutions of damages to the state’s natural resources.
In fall 2020, the DEP commenced a public participation process seeking feedback on 30 percent design concept plans for the interior restoration. As the DEP proceeds with more detailed design plans, the agency will routinely engage the public and solicit feedback. Meanwhile, the task force will consider finer design details and make recommendations to the Commissioner concerning the natural resource and ecological features, passive and active recreational features, and ancillary and support features both within and outside of the interior, including areas that could promote improved intra-park circulation and park connectivity with surrounding communities and other public amenities. The task force is expected to present its recommendations to the Commissioner by June 30, 2022.
To ensure consideration of diverse voices, experiences and viewpoints, the DEP task force is comprised of the following members in addition to the two co-chairs:
Public input has been an important part of the process as the DEP moves toward the interior restoration project. A survey soliciting feedback on the interior restoration active recreation ideas received more than 3,600 responses. Survey results, an explanation of the remediation process and other updates were shared at a June virtual public meeting.
The 1,200-acre Liberty State Park is situated along the mouth of the Hudson River where it meets the Upper New York Bay, and has the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as its backdrop. It represents one of the last remaining contiguous open green spaces along the highly developed Northern New Jersey/New York City waterfront. The park, in Hudson County, is also the only location in New Jersey with ferry service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Among other amenities, the park is home to the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, the NJ Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial, a two-mile promenade, nature center, picnic and play areas, the Liberty Landing Marina, and restaurants.
For more information about Liberty State Park, visit www.njparksandforests.org/parks/libertystatepark.html
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