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Meadowlands ‘Cleanup Bill’ Needs Cleaning Up

March 18th, 2015 by

Questions remain about why Liberty State Park development rights are included in this bill.

The New Jersey Turnpike as it passes over the Meadowlands. Photo source: flickr user illinigardner

The New Jersey Turnpike as it passes over the Meadowlands. Photo source: flickr user illinigardner

The proposed Meadowlands “cleanup” bill, intended to correct the flaws and shortcomings in the legislation that folded the Meadowlands Commission into the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, in fact has not gone far enough to address problems in the original legislation, and has created several new problems. New Jersey Future has submitted formal comments urging that the bill be amended significantly before it reaches the governor’s desk for signing, where the rubber stamp awaits.

Most of our comments focused on three main areas:

  • Regional governance and responsibility. The bill eliminates the Meadowlands Commission entirely, along with a 40-year history of effective regional planning. We urge those mandates and responsibilities be transferred over to the Sports and Exposition Authority. We also urge that municipalities be required to comply fully with the Meadowlands regional plan rather than leaving certain projects exempt, as the bill does now.
  • Taxpayer subsidies. The regional tax-sharing arrangement is replaced with a hotel tax, but leaves state taxpayers on the hook if that tax is insufficient to cover obligations. We recommend the establishment of a regionally generated fund to house any hotel-tax surpluses, to be used in the event of a shortfall.
  • Liberty State Park. While last-minute amendments move the bill closer to addressing our concerns about responsibility for Liberty State Park, they do not satisfy them entirely. The DEP still maintains ownership of the park, yet the Sports and Exposition Authority effectively has development rights. We see no reason for this additional legislative authority and recommend eliminating this section entirely, and leaving full control of the park with the DEP.

See our full comments.

One Response to “Meadowlands ‘Cleanup Bill’ Needs Cleaning Up”

  1. Bill Wolfe says:

    Could you explain how the SPA effectively has development right?

    What is the basis of this claim? Where do these development right come from?

    I read the bill as authorizing certain powers of the new Meadowlands Regional Commission, not the SPA and I must have missed what you are calling the development rights.

    Also, I find it at best unprofessional for NJF to have partnered with DEP on the $120,000 study revealed recently by the Bergen Record.

    Given that your testimony suggests support for a “more transparent approach”, could you provide and publicly post that study?

    Your testimony also mentions what DEP wants to do

    Just what does DEP want to do at the park? How do you know what DEP wants to do?

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