May 11, 2011
Gov. Christie seeks to overturn waterfront access rules
By Sonia Owchariw
The state Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing on May 12 at Liberty Park at 11 a.m. at the Visitor's Center about proposed changes to rules governing public access to the state’s waterways.
Captain Bill Sheehan, a spokesman for the group Hackensack Riverkeeper, opposes the changes, saying that if the Christie administration overturns former Gov. Jon Corzine’s ruling on waterway access, it will cause residents to have less access to waterways in Hudson, Bergen, Passaic and Essex counties.
"The waterways belong to the people. People have a right to the air we breathe, and the water we drink. And overturning the waterways to industries without them compensating for loss of access to waterways for fishing, recreation, or just walking is not acceptable," Sheehan said.
Under the former Corzine administration, the state DEP adopted public access regulations for waterways, mandating that those owning property on the waterfront compensate the town so the town can build portions of a waterfront walkway.
For example, according to Sheehan, IMTT, International Matex Tank Terminal, in Bayonne, provided the municipality with funding to open a park for residents when they expanded their petrochemical facility. The park was opened in fall 2010.
June 3 is the DEP deadline for public comments and on May 12, oral testimony will be accepted for those wanting to comment on the waterfront access rules.
For more information about Hackensack Riverkeeper, visit www.hackensackriverkeeper.org.