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Christie Administration Scraps Development Plan For Liberty State Park

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Gov. Chris Christie's administration has dropped potential plans to develop Liberty State Park.

New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin told lawmakers Thursday the state will give up possible efforts for development, including an amusement park or a low-rise hotel at the park that overlooks the Statue of Liberty.

"There is no plan. Full stop," Martin said during a hearing before the Democrat-led Senate Budget Committee. "The bottom line is we've chosen to do nothing at this point."

Martin said the focus instead will be on the state's 38 other parks where local officials have responded with less pushback.

The state paid $120,000 in grants to the nonprofit New Jersey Future to test the viability of developments at the park.

The department published an 18-page report in November outlining possibilities for the park to generate more money. It has a budget of $3.5 million but brings in only $1.5 million. The proposals were met with sharp criticism by some park boosters, who said the consensus is the park should be free open space behind Lady Liberty.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop was among those who were against the idea.

"I think it's a foolish proposal and a real big mistake," Fulop told WCBS 880's Steve Scott in November. "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."

On Thursday, New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel called the administration's decision a ``victory'' for the park.

A historic train shed that covers the equivalent of 11 football fields and could require up to $100 million in restoration would was singled out in the report as a possibility for the park. The suggestions also included the 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 was also mentioned as an area that could be home to a restaurant or bar, a conference center or a catering hall.

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

It had 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 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 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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