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Jersey City Mayor Says He'll Take State To Court To Protect Liberty State Park From Development

JERSEY CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said a proposal to develop parts of Liberty State Park is in "poor taste" and hinted the city could fight in court to protect the park if the state presses on.

"I think it's a foolish proposal and a real big mistake," Fulop told WCBS 880's Steve Scott. "The park is an absolute gem for the entire state of New Jersey. We live in a very dense state, and open space is valuable."

A report released Tuesday by the state Department of Environmental Protection showed that Gov. Chris Christie's administration is considering developments at the cash-strapped park.

The park sees 4 million visitors annually. It has a yearly budget of $3.5 million, but generates only $1.5 million.

Fulop said, when it comes to its finances, Liberty State Park is being held to a different standard by the state than other parks.

"What certainly the state can expect is a long legal battle," the mayor said. "And we intend as a city to dig in on behalf of our open spaces located in Jersey City. So even if they were to contract with any sort of development, our zoning, we feel, would have standing. So buyer beware, I suppose, for anybody who's looking to engage in developing the park."

The proposed changes would affect different sections of the park.

A historic train shed that covers the equivalent of 11 football fields and that requires restoration that could cost up to $100 million is singled out in the report as a possible area for development. The suggestions include a low-rise hotel, a re-creation of famous restaurants from across the state and a museum tied to immigration or transportation.

The old Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal is also mentioned as an area that could be home to a restaurant or bar, a conference center or a catering hall.

The report said a southern zone could be developed to include an amusement park, outdoor amphitheater or field house for indoor sports.

It also said a central area, which includes most of the park's open space, could host daily public programming like art classes, author readings, poetry slams and walking clubs.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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