After Hurricane Sandy dumped debris and trash on the grounds of Liberty State Park, more than 150 volunteers took on the Herculean task of helping park staff and the Friends of Liberty State Park take on a massive clean-up effort so the grounds could be reopened just weeks after the storm. By mid-November, sections of the park were once again opened to the public for running, biking, walking, bird watching, and other activities.
But even then, the park staff acknowledged that it could be a year or more before Liberty State Park would be completely open and fully operational. Today, a full year after Sandy swept through the region for example, the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal building remains closed due to the five feet of water damage it sustained during the hurricane. Some of the park’s infrastructure has also yet to fully recuperate from the storm.
According to Ed White, a park intern who is serving as a volunteer coordinator, the extensive repairs that have been needed at the terminal and other park buildings has diverted staff who would otherwise be tending to park grounds.
Extensive repairs that have been needed at the terminal and other park buildings has diverted staff who would otherwise be tending to park grounds.
Liberty State Park sustained about $20 million in damages, according to Park Superintendent Robert Rodriguez. He now estimates that it could take up to two years to fully repair the park’s Nature Center and the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal building, which needs a complete renovation of its damaged first floor.
The significant work needed to complete these repairs has meant that other maintenance needed at the park has been put on the back burner, said White.
“There are a lot of trails throughout the park that have been damaged by Hurricane Sandy and have become overgrown,” said White. “They have fallen into disrepair because the park maintenance workers have had a lot of other things to do, whether it’s clean up around the historic terminal or whether it’s actually repairing buildings. So, some of this more general clean up and maintenance has fallen by the wayside.”
Each Saturday this month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., White will have small groups of volunteers removing shrubs and invasive grass from park trails so that they can be used comfortably by nature lovers “without them having to bushwhack their way through the trails,” said White.
At press time, about 10 people had signed up to volunteer on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Many of the volunteers who have already committed to help out are people who came to the park’s aid a year ago, just weeks after the hurricane hit.
“We have a lot of people who want to come back and help again,” said White. “Restoring the park is something they started last year after Sandy and I think they see this as just a logical ongoing follow-up to work they’ve already committed to.”
To volunteer for an upcoming volunteer day, e-mail White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.