A Jersey City councilman and an anti-violence coalition in the city raised concerns over the Department of Environmental Protection’s handling of Liberty State Park’s remediation Thursday.
“I have serious concerns that the proposed plan appears to leave contamination in the park, does not provide for the kinds of active recreation that was originally promised in the park’s inclusive 1977 master plan, and was put forward without any input from communities of color and is now being pushed in a process that is incredibly inconvenient for the men, women and families I represent,” Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson said in a letter to Deputy DEP Commissioner Olivia Glenn.
Robinson worried that the department’s plan to remediate a 234-acre contaminated portion of the park did not provide for a removal of all contaminated soil. Instead, the DEP intends to remove the top layers of toxic soil and cap it with fresh dirt.
The councilman’s letter also cautions that the city’s non-white residents are being kept out of the process, a claim echoed by New Jersey NAACP President Richard Smith Thursday. At issue is the DEP’s rather threadbare hearing schedule on the parks’ remediation.
“Does the DEP really believe that a single virtual meeting, held a time when most parents are taking care of their children and many in the community are either still working or just returning from work, is sufficient?” Robinson said. “We fail to understand how this process can be justified.”
Another letter to Glenn, sent by the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement Executive Director Pamela Johnson, raised similar concerns.
“How can your department possibly think that one single public meeting be sufficient for the 265,000 residents of Jersey City and the Nearly 9,000,000 residents of New Jersey?” she said. “If you want to show us your office is serious about environmental justice, that you really care about the thoughts and opinions of Black and Brown people, we need multiple meetings on the urban planning of Liberty State Park.