The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) deserves credit for their willingness to listen to the community and act on our concerns around Liberty State Park. But if the so-called Advocates for the Park have their way, there will be no active recreation at the Park and no input from anyone but themselves.  

When DEP first announced their Park plans in September, I was skeptical. There is a long history of making grand promises around the Park but never delivering. That’s why LSPFA called for an extensive clean-up of the Park that matched standards used in white communities. The need is dozens of acres of active recreation and public meetings for the community to outline what they want.

The progress that has been made since September is remarkable. It could not have happened without the DEP. The community has come together and varied groups have cooperated to address the needs of the community. The same cannot be said of Friends of Liberty State Park, nor their cohorts like the Sierra Club, who continue to ambush discussions with tales of their billionaire boogeyman and a golf course that has nothing to do with DEP’s plan. 

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More disturbing is their efforts to rewrite history. Like the Republicans who didn’t incite anybody, the “Friends” have never opposed active recreation at the Park. So why did they support Chris Christie’s Park plan that had no active recreation in it? Why did it not come up in three decades of these “Friends” park involvement? And what is this greed need? The Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel suggests that, despite what the community wants, it is much more important that he and his supporters enjoy the natural beauty of all 235 acres in the Interior. That would be best for the community? The disconnection of the “Friends” and their supporters mimics the separate reality seen by election deniers. Fortunately, Jersey City residents are not as confused about what is fair for everyone. These gas-lighters are running out of fuel as the race to social justice and community inclusion begins.

Now it is clear that active recreation in the Interior is what the actual Jersey City community wants. Whatever tactic these so-called advocates are using we will not spend our time focused on their petty distractions. Their time monopolizing the conversation is ending. The community will be heard!

Arnold Stovell is the Executive Director of Liberty State Park For All