LSP has been saved from Christie's privatization plans, but here were the facts:
The Governor's 18-page report calling for development at Liberty State Park is full of myths and misinformation. We've done our best to break down the most egregious errors the report makes, but if you want to read more, you can find the Friends of Liberty State Park's full opposition statement here.
Myth: The Governor’s proposal only accounts for a small fraction of the Park’s total land area. Liberty State Park has 1600 acres – surely we can develop on 38 of those acres.
Fact: Liberty State Park is 1,212 acres, not 1600 as Governor Christie’s administration claims. Furthermore, only half of that is actual parkland, as opposed to tidal marsh. The planned Interior natural area is an additional 240 acres, and then there’s the acreage of existing buildings, roads, walkways, parking lots, already leased land, existing natural areas, and the rest of the park’s attractions. As a result, the proposed development actually accounts for a very significant portion of available open space. And of course there’s the inevitable destructive impact of weekend traffic jams, addition of new parking lots, and more which will restrict public access to Liberty State Park and permanently alter the park’s peaceful landscape.
Myth: Liberty State Park runs a "deficit" of $2 million, which the State can't afford to make up.
Fact: Parks are a public good, and - just like schools and other public goods - have always relied on public funding. In fact, taxpayers themselves have consistently voted in favor of funding for open space time and again. Moreover, LSP raises $1.5 million all on its own, each year, cutting the cost to the state almost in half.
Myth: Liberty State Park is underutilized and development is needed to help make the park attractive to millions more visitors.
Fact: Liberty State Park is jam-packed on spring, summer and warm fall weekends and in fact, the south entrance road is often closed on Sundays in the summer when LSP runs out of free parking. LSP is regularly used by local residents for varied free, unstructured recreation and is enjoyed by New Jerseyans and by tourists from around the nation and the world.
Myth: Commercial development would improve the value of the park.
Fact: Green open space is an invaluable asset to local communities. Mounting evidence and numerous studies – including from the DEP itself – show that benefits from public parks include:
Myth: Advocates like the Friends of Liberty State Park are against any development or commercialization efforts whatsoever.
Fact: Park advocates have always been open to smart commercialization efforts that are consistent with preserving the Park's beautiful, open, public space. Ideas such as a temporary ice-skating rink in the winter, a private event-manager to book after-hour events at the Terminal, and expanded food and recreation options have always been acceptable to Park advocates. Governor Christie's plans go far beyond what would be compatible with Liberty State Park as we know it and would dramatically - and permanently - alter the Park's landscape.