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State Sen. Brian Stack. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Stack will introduce legislation protecting Caven Point

Liberty State Park task force bill has drawn criticism for lack of environmental safeguards

By Joey Fox, June 28 2022 4:57 pm

State Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City), whose bill establishing a Liberty State Park Design Task Force was approved in committee yesterday, said today that he’ll introduce future legislation protecting Caven Point, a nature reserve that environmental groups fear has been left open to development.

“Caven Point is a unique public space and deserving of special consideration,” Stack said in a statement. “While S2807/A4264 reiterates that Liberty State Park is under [Department of Environmental Protection] control, I will be introducing additional legislation to make clear that Caven Point shall remain as it does today – a nature habitat and public space.”

The statement did not include any further details about what the bill would do, nor did it say when it might be taken up; tomorrow likely marks the last day the full legislature will meet before departing for its summer recess.

Stack’s current bill, which is set to be voted on tomorrow in both chambers, creates a task force to develop a master plan for the park and appropriates $50 million (well down from the initial $250 million) towards the park’s refurbishment. 

But while many local politicians have praised the bill, environmental groups have warned that it doesn’t protect the park from overdevelopment and from Paul Fireman, a billionaire who wants to expand his golf course into Caven Point. Their concerns were echoed by Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), the sponsor of the separate Liberty State Park Protection Act, which includes more explicit environmental protections.

“My concern today isn’t so much with what’s in the bill as what isn’t in the bill,” Mukherji said shortly before voting against the task force bill. “The bill which I’ve authored contains guardrails to ensure the people’s park remains exactly that.”

Stack’s announcement that he’ll sponsor legislation specifically regarding Caven Point is an acknowledgment of those criticisms, even as the senator has continued to laud the bill that he’s already gotten through committee.

“The legislature stands on the verge of a historic investment in Liberty State Park,” he said of the task force bill. “This investment is only the beginning of what is going to be a community-led effort to finally bring attention, resources, and amenities to this great public park.”

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