NEW JERSEY SIERRA CLUB OPINION
Liberty National Golf club is back and billionaire Paul Fireman is pushing legislators and lobbying to get his ultra-exclusive golf course expansion onto the Caven Point are of Liberty State Park. Just two weeks ago, A4903 (Mukherji)/ S3357 (Cunningham), the Liberty State Park Protection Act, aimed at keeping public parkland open to the public and away from private developers, unanimously passed out of the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee. Developers are working to be exempt from the legislation to build their golf course.
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“Once again, billionaire Paul Fireman is trying to play games with Liberty State Park. He is trying to expand his golf course in Caven’s Point, which is a wilderness area. This time he is pushing to weaken A4903 (Mukherji), that protects LSP, and land that belongs to all of us. Fireman is behind the scenes lobbying and campaigning to weaken the law and put a loophole in the bill big enough to fit a bulldozer, or a golf cart through. Liberty National Golf want to cut down trees and fill in wetlands for their wealthy members just to see the skyline. They will also be using an enormous amount of water, pesticides, and herbicides to maintain the course,”said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This land is held in the public trust and belongs to all of us, not just to be for a private club. This billionaire is trying to destroy wilderness and take our public land for millionaires.”
The Caven Point Natural Area of Liberty State Park is a 22-acre peninsula located at the southwestern-most area of the park, accessible by the waterfront walkway. This area is frequently used by birders, and fishermen, and people enjoying nature. Proponents of the golf course proposal argue it is not just a golf "academy." It is a proven youth development program where life-changing opportunities are offered and fulfilled every day. They claim that if the proposed land swap that will allow the creation of The First Tee Learning Links funded by Liberty National is needlessly blocked, thousands of youth in Jersey City each year will be denied these same life-changing opportunities.
“This is the only wild are in an urban part of New Jersey. Filling in wetlands and cutting down forests here would be a reckless act for greed. Last year, Liberty National Golf Club put out a public relations campaign to try to grab public land that belongs to all of us. The youth-golfing program is a puppet show to own Liberty National Park. Liberty National Golf Club is trying to take public land from the families of these kids for their private golf course. These families can’t even afford this golf club because membership is over $300,000 a year,” said Tittel. “Children are already in nature programs at Caven’s Point. The golf course would deny those children opportunities to explore the environmental benefits and beauty of Caven’s Point.”
In the NJ Statehouse, legislation to protect Liberty State Park is moving forward. The "Liberty State Park Protection Act", A4903 (Mukherji), establishes Liberty State Park Advisory Committee and requirements concerning DEP actions related to Liberty State Park. The bill would prohibit the DEP from considering any proposal to commercialize, develop, or privatize Liberty State Park, except as provided in the bill. The bill would prohibit any concession, conveyance, or lease within the 235-acre natural restoration area in the interior of Liberty State Park, and at Caven Point Peninsula.
“Thousands of people use Caven’s Point for environmental programs and recreational uses such as fishing and bird watching. It is a critical area because it is the buffer between Liberty Golf Course and Caven’s Point. It is in an environmentally sensitive area that needs to be preserved. Legislation like the LSP Protection Act will help prevent harmful privatization proposals to be built at LSP. That is why it is critical for our New Jersey State Legislators to move forward on passing this bill,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “LSP belongs to all of us and Caven’s Point is an important part of the park. It should be left for people to enjoy. It is not a millionaire’s golf club. We have been fighting for 30 years to protect Liberty State Park from water parks, marinas and we will keep on fighting.”