Opportunity to serve OpSail; Weehawken councilman Terlizzi named to July 4 water festival's commission
Weehawken Councilman James Terlizzi fondly recalls Operation Sail, which brought a parade of tall ships into the New York Harbor as part of the nation's bicentennial celebration in 1976. "All the tall ships and military ships, I really loved it," Terlizzi said. "It was quite an experience." That's why Terlizzi jumped at the opportunity to serve on the OpSail 2000 Commission, to be a part of the 16-member group that will help make the final plans for the upcoming harbor spectacular during and after the Fourth of July weekend. "I was asked if I wanted to serve on the commission, and I said, 'Sure,' " said Terlizzi, who has been a member of the township council for the last two years. "I figured that this will be a very big celebration, and considering that I'm getting a little long in the tooth, I might not get another opportunity like this one. If I'm going to get a chance to get a little more involved than most with OpSail, then why not? Frankly, I was flattered to be asked." OpSail 2000 will bring more than 300 tall ships and 54 modern naval vessels into the New York harbor and up the Hudson River, for viewing on both sides of the river. Because of its location and viewing areas, Weehawken is expected to be a prime site for visitors, so that's why it was vital to have Weehawken representation on the commission. Terlizzi was sworn into to the voluntary position last week and already attended the first meeting of the group, which went over some plans. "There is definitely a lot of work involved," Terlizzi said. "With the logistics, with the police, the fire and emergency personnel. With sanitation and cleanup. The first meeting, we discussed how were going to get funds for the project, because there will be costs by the various communities to hold the event. Right now, we're looking into getting financing from the state, so taxpayers won't have to pay the brunt of the bill." State Senator Bernard Kenny of Hoboken, who was also selected to serve on the commission, headed the conversation about funding for the project. Other noteworthy local officials who have been selected to serve on the OpSail 2000 Commission include Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, Freeholder Sal Vega, Hoboken Councilman Tony Soares, former Hudson County Freeholder Neil Carroll and former Jersey City Councilwoman Willie Flood. Terlizzi is happy to be representing Weehawken on the commission. "It's important for Weehawken to be recognized, because, assuming the weather cooperates, we could have as many as 50,000 people coming into the township for the event," Terlizzi said. "That's big. It should be an exciting holiday period, but it's actually going to be ongoing for about 10 days. So we have to be worried about road closures, traffic problems, security. We really have to be ready and we're taking it very seriously." After owning his own business for years, Terlizzi took a position as the housing director for the township for seven years before resigning that position when he was elected into office two years ago. He previously served for 12 years as the chairman of the township's Board of Adjustment. "All I do now is serve as a councilman," Terlizzi said. "Along with this new position." Terlizzi said that there hasn't been a lot of excitement from the community just yet about OpSail 2000. "I think some people are aware that it's going to happen, but it's still a little ways off," Terlizzi said. "It's a little premature. People are aware, but not of the enormity of the event and the details of it. Once the big publicity kicks in, then people will get more excited. It should be a great event." Terlizzi is excited to be involved. "I'm really looking forward to serving on the commission and the event itself," Terlizzi said. "Anything I can do to help people enjoy it. I'm sure it will be a wonderful time for all of us."