Although the new DEP deserves credit for finally rejecting the Liberty National golf course proposal to lease the Caven Point natural area at LSP, the decision was made very easy for them. Judging by the DEP’s rejection letter to Liberty National, their proposal failed miserably to meet the requirements stated in the Request for Proposals. Not even the Christie administration’s DEP, which issued the RFP, could have approved it. Given this lame, incomplete proposal and the overwhelming public opposition to the Liberty National plan, the DEP’s decision was simple. Caven Point may be safe for now, but it’s far from protected.
While Caven Point is often referred to as a “natural area,” it is not officially included within the elite NJ Natural Area System. That designation would protect it from privatization and development. Caven Point is qualified to be in the System because it’s a unique ecological community and rare / endangered species habitat. Now is the time for the DEP to classify Caven Point as an official NJ Natural Area, and give Caven Point the protection it deserves. Still hanging over LSP is the other eleventh-hour, Christie privatization scheme: the proposed Suntex marina along the Black Tom Island site on the south shore.
If Black Tom Island was listed on the NJ Register of Historic Places, it would be protected from development schemes like the Suntex marina plan. In 1916, the historically significant Black Tom Island was the site of one of the worst acts of terrorism / sabotage in American history, and therefore qualifies as a Historic Place. The site is also where LSP was originally established in 1976, and should remain free and open for everyone to enjoy.
Now is the time for the DEP to reject the marina plan, and protect this site by approving the application they received in December for the registration of Black Tom Island as a NJ Historic Place. Privatization and development threats at LSP continue to occur because whenever such threats have been defeated in the past, nothing was done to protect LSP from future threats. It’s time for the new DEP to represent a true departure from the privatization ploys of the prior administration. The rejection of Liberty National’s pathetic proposal was an easy first step. Simply by taking the additional steps mentioned above, the DEP can just as easily ensure the protection of Caven Point and Black Tom Island for future generations.