NEW JERSEY - Caven Point, on the edge of Jersey City, across the Hudson River from New York City, with views of the Statue of Liberty, boasts a mile-long stretch of beach that can feel light years away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
“You walk half a mile down to the beach and you’re transported, you’re in a different world,” said Rick Cordner, who goes birdwatching at Caven Point several times a week.
The area is part of the 1200 acre Liberty State Park and is a habitat where students come to experience nature and where hundreds of wildlife species like the snowy owl have called home.
“Liberty State Park is one of the sanctuaries, it’s a green oasis like Central Park in New York that people enjoy,” said Greg Remaud, NY/NJ Baykeeper.
But Caven Point is now the subject of a fight between preservationists and the owners of the exclusive Liberty National Golf Club that sits just adjacent. It’s one of the most expensive golf courses ever built, where pros like Tiger Woods have played, and members have included Rudy Giuliani and Justin Timberlake.
Now, the Club’s owners say in a bid to continue attracting top tournaments, it wants move three of its 18 holes onto part of Caven Point.
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“Liberty National is looking for a win-win situation in terms of which we can expand our course, enable the PGA tour to stay, and keep pumping millions of economic and charitable dollars into Jersey City,” said Eric Shuffler, a partner with River Crossing Strategy Group.
Liberty National wants to amend a piece of proposed legislation, The Liberty State Park Protection Act, to allow development on Caven Point. As the bill currently stands, it would prevent almost all private development in the park.
“To think it could be bulldozed over for a bunch of golf fairways is really upsetting,” said Cordner.
In exchange, the golf course is promising to create opportunities for inner city kids on golf course and provide new park amenities and environmental remediation. Though while the company initially invested hundreds of millions of dollars to remediate the land before the course was built in 2006, preservationists say it no longer needs to be remediated.
“We view it as not just focusing on one strict issue, but how can we provide a series of benefits, environmental and economic across the entire park that will benefit everyone,” said Shuffler.
Remaud isn’t sold on those promises.
“To say oh we’ll put a driving range and make some park improvements to give the .1% people access is really silly and against the public trust,” he said.
A rally is planned to oppose the privatization of the land this Saturday at 11am. Demonstrators plan to meet at flag plaza in Liberty State Park and march to Caven Point.