A proposal to build a new marina and another plan to expand Liberty National Golf Course on public land have both been shot down in recent months, but a new group is hoping they have the right stuff to win approval for another development that would be near (and partially in) Liberty State Park.
The organization behind the endeavor is called Liberty Rising, not to be confused with Paul Fireman’s failed casino project that was also pitched for just outside Liberty State Park. The new group owns several acres of land just off the I-78 New Jersey Turnpike extension’s toll booths and wishes to construct a new sports complex that would include a 100,000-seat Formula 1 racetrack.
In addition to the large racing facility, Liberty Rising has also pitched plans for a separate cricket stadium. Thomas Considine, a spokesman for the group, told the Jersey Journal that there would be 18 to 24 racing days a year at the stadium, and the rest of the time it would be open to the public as a recreational facility.
As part of the deal, Liberty Rising would need to use 25 acres of Liberty State Park in a section that is currently restricted to the public. The property they would need is part of an upcoming 240-acre restoration project in the park’s interior that will clean up and reclaim the land into more greenspace. The group has dangled private funding for that project as an incentive, in addition to new playgrounds city-wide and a new rail stop inside the park.
The scale of the plan is unquestionably huge; the current biggest sports venue in the New York City region is East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium at 82,500 seats, so Liberty Rising’s project would be the largest stadium in the area by quite a bit if built. Considine has stated the group believes traffic would be minimal because of a plan to add a rail stop, but where it would be located and what it would connect to hasn’t been disclosed.
Friends of Liberty State Park doesn’t like the idea. “The racing and concert stadium traffic would have an inevitable, devastatingly negative impact on weekend public access to LSP, on tourists heading to the LSP ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, on Jersey City neighborhoods, on Liberty Science Center visitors and on Turnpike extension traffic,” says president Sam Pesin.
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has stated he will meet with Liberty Rising soon, but he sounds lukewarm. He told ROI-NJ that Jersey City “can’t handle the traffic” and claimed that “it would change the entire park.” Regardless of local opinion, the Department of Environmental Protection is the one who would need to approve or reject the project.
Formula 1, the highest league of single-seater auto racing, has tried to make inroads into Hudson County before. A race called Grand Prix of America had agreed to run on a 3.2 mile stretch of Weehawken and West New York back in 2011, but the plans fell through despite chatter last year about their revival.