Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey is looking to re-route its existing 18-hole golf course with three new holes that would sit on a piece of Liberty State Park.
Before former governor Chris Christie left office, he authorized the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to put out a public bid request for plans to develop on a 21-acre peninsula called Caven Point that juts out into the Hudson River near the Statue of Liberty. It was a last-ditch effort Christie made as part of a broader effort in his term to bring private development to several New Jersey parks. Prior efforts failed to yield projects like hotels and conference centers.
For this RFP, Liberty National was the only organization to submit a bid.
Park advocates are upset at the prospect of Liberty National using the land to further enrich a club with a $300,000 initiation fee, one of the highest in the world. The park space has marshlands and a sandy beach where, according to NorthJersey.com, 500 to 600 students each year capture and release a variety of marine life found in those waters.
The state bidding documents did call for plans which minimize environmental impact, but kids would likely lose access to that space for enrichment programs. However, Liberty National owner Paul Fireman said the club would use the land to bring a chapter of The First Tee to the club.
The DEP will vet the proposal, but approval ultimately is in the hands of the Statehouse Commission, a legislative body controlling the sale and leasing of state-owned land.
Liberty National Golf Course opened in 2006, and it represents a radical transformation of a former landfill and industrial wasteland. That may get it some points with the commission in seeking approvals.