Author Topic: Liberty State Park advocates fear bill, ballot measure will harm waterfront gem  (Read 10556 times)

Offline jkm@fop.net

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While I oppose commercialization in the Park, I think some things can make it that much better.  The Train Shed should be re-habbed however.  The quality of the food from vendors should be vastly improved.  The entry and exit point, particularly Johnston Ave should be made better and by all means safer.  The south end of the park could accommodate a marina at no harm to the park.  The center now fenced should remain wild, perhaps in years to come it will remediate itself.  The ferris wheels in London and Vienna did not distract from the landscape.  The beach between Port Liberte and the park should be cleaned and made available and swimmable.  Most of all the current amenities should be maintained and repaired as required.  More trees would not hurt.  The Battleship NJ should be located somewhere near the park.

Online TheFang

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Whoo! This is such great news! We had a pretty strict no-phone policy on vacation this weekend, but I'm glad I peaked to see this. Got to toast an extra rum swizzle to the park.


Seriously though, congrats to everyone who worked so hard to keep such an important part of this city intact.
"I can't help it, I'm a greedy slob. It's my hobby." -- D.D.

Online MÇA

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From Friends of Liberty State Park:



Dear Liberty State Park supporters,

People Power has stopped Gov Christie's commercialization/privatization plans! THANKS to all who raised their voices to save the park's future! Park advocates have again put democracy into action and fought for a free park behind Lady Liberty! The DEP Commissioner abandoned the Governor's destructive plans due to the strong and passionate opposition and their knowing the opposition would have gotten more massive if they continued to push their dangerous plans.

This Saturday's Pet Parade Protest against Privatization at 10:30 near the park's Flag Plaza at the southside will still go on, but now as a Pets for the Park Victory Parade. The new Facebook invitation is here.  All are welcome to join in for a joyful victory lap led by pet owners and their pets who love the park. Thanks to 8th grader Caitlin Malmad for initiating the pet protest parade. We also will have a major celebration on LSP's 40th birthday on Tues 6/14 with details below. 

We had a powerful combination of park supporters and caring elected officials, with the strong leadership of JC Mayor Steve Fulop, and the Hudson legislative delegation of long time LSP ally Senator Sandra Cunningham, and also Senator Brian Stack, Assemblypeople Raj Mukherji, Angela McKnight, Nick Chiaravalloti and Annette Chaparro. Also thanks to the entire JC Municipal Council and Hudson County Board of Freeholders.We will get to thank several elected officials from outside Hudson County in a followup email.

The Friends of LSP thanks the dedicated co-leader of this battle, NY/NJ Baykeeper, the 23 year ally of the Friends, with the great leadership of deputy director Greg Remaud. Thanks too to Sandra Meola, the Baykeeper's communications staffperson! We played the role of Paul Revere and the People fought to protect our great open space park for future generations.

Here are 3 news stories about the People's Victory for LSP!!!
Liberty State Park advocates cheer DEP decision to abandon development (Politico)
State is walking away from potential development at Liberty State Park, DEP commissioner says (The Jersey Journal)
New Jersey dropping plans for Liberty State Park development (The Record)



PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THIS HISTORIC PROTEST!

Tues. 6/14  LSP's 40th Birthday Celebration Picnic between 5 to 8pm.
Picnic area and field at southeast end of LSP. GPS is 200 Morris Pesin Drive. "Bring your own picnics" and enjoy birthday cake to celebrate our beloved park.

Thanks for your steadfast support of LSP, our NJ and American green jewel!

Sam Pesin, president  Michel Cuillerier and Eliza Wright, co-vice presidents, Trustees: John Tichenor (co-founder & 1st pres.) Gladys Vasques and Dorcey Winant   

Offline speaknj

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Speak NJ is a public access cable program that airs in Jersey City and Bayonne.  Mondays, Jersey City 10:30 PM and Tuesdays 9:00 PM, Channel 51. In Bayonne, channel 19, Tuesdays @ 9:00 PM

Offline Rabelais

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"Please sign the Petition to oppose the Governor's plans. "

I did.
What about the mayor's plans?
[02:35 PM] jehu: and the only people on here who gives good advice are few.

Online MÇA

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Email received:



Dear Liberty State Park supporters,

Please try to attend the very important news conference this Thurs at 10:45 AM  announcing the formation of The Coalition to Save Liberty State Park. Though it's a work day, it would be great if people attend to show support for our cause of saving the future of LSP from destructive commercialization plans. The media alert is below with the location info. It is also at this website link. Several major elected officials will be there to speak and support our park cause.

If you haven't gotten a chance, please sign the Petition with the information under the media alert.

Thanks! We will fight hard to protect the park for future generations.

MEDIA ADVISORY
January 18, 2016
Contacts:

    Sam Pesin, Friends of Liberty State Park, pesinliberty@earthlink.net (c) 201-341-7895 after 4:30 pm but anytime Thurs) or texting anytime to 201-341-7900
    Greg Remaud, NY/NJ Baykeeper, greg@nynjbaykeeper.org (c): 732-768-6033
    Sandra Meola, NY/NJ Baykeeper, sandra@nynjbaykeeper.org(c): 201-336-4647

Friends of Liberty State Park and NY/NJ Baykeeper to Announce Coalition Against Christie Administration's Plans for Liberty State Park Privatization
 
WHAT:  Friends of Liberty State Park, NY/NJ Baykeeper, alongside Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31), Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37) and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), will announce the "Coalition to Save Liberty State Park" campaign. The campaign strongly denounces the Christie Administration's commercialization and privatization plans for the park behind Lady Liberty, and advocates for the 40-year broad public consensus to keep Liberty State Park free and fully accessible for public use.
 
WHEN:  Thursday, January 21, 2016, 10:45 AM
WHERE: Liberty House Restaurant inside LSP- Liberty Room on 1st floor
             76 Audrey Zapp Drive Jersey City, NJ 07305
WHO:  Sam Pesin of Friends of Liberty State Park, Greg Remaud of NY/NJ Baykeeper, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31), Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37) and Laura Skolar, president of the Jersey City Parks Coalition
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Please sign the Petition to oppose the Governor's plans.
Please take a stand for Liberty State Park and sign the important petition to tell Governor Christie - don't commercialize and privatize our free and green open space park behind Lady Liberty! The Governor's plans to hand over our priceless park to developers are an attack on the urban people's quality of life and an attack on LSP's purpose and meaning to all Americans.

Please share the petition link on social media and in emails. The Friends of Liberty State and our great 23 year ally the NY/NJ Baykeeper launched the  petition website which includes a facts/myths section and editorials, etc., as a key part of the massive grassroots movement that is needed to protect LSP for future generations. For LSP's 40 years, the overwhelming majority has opposed privatization and commercialization plans just like these and this great green public land needs your help once again.  #SaveLSP

The plans will take open space and cause spring/summer/fall weekend traffic jams and harm LSP's peacefulness due to a company booking way too many large-scale events on waterfront lawns, a commercial amphitheater, amusement park, hotel, leased out Terminal, marina at south end also, etc. LSP serves the Public Good and should not have to pay for itself as the Governor wants.
 
For now, it would also help to email Senator Sandra Cunningham  Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop  Senator Loretta Weinberg  and Senator Stephen Sweeney who have expressed support for our cause to thank them and ask them to advocate for the park with other elected officials and the Governor.

Another important way you can help is to write a letter to the editor and send the same one to the Jersey Journal , Star Ledger, The Record, and any other newspaper. It would be helpful if you'd copy the Friends on your email.

Our Battle page with stories, letters and editorials 
The DEP's 18 page Development Options Proposal
The Friends Statement Condemning the Development Proposals

We will fight together to protect LSP's future! Please encourage your friends and family to join our email list and to follow us on social media by going to our home page for those links.

Whose Park is it?   OUR PARK !!!
FREE AND GREEN - THAT'S WHAT WE MEAN !!!

Thanks to ChicpeaJC for letting us use her great aerial image of LSP (with text added)


Online shahaggy

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The Christie administration on Tuesday unveiled possible ideas for bringing large-scale private development to Liberty State Park, including a low-rise hotel near its prized waterfront along with an amusement park, indoor sports complex and amphitheater in its south end.

The 18-page report had been highly anticipated after the administration paid $120,000 to contractors to evaluate ways to generate more money from New Jersey’s most visited park, a 1,200-acre stretch in Jersey City that was once an industrial wasteland.

The report by the Department of Environmental Protection targets a number of areas, including the 123-year-old Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal and adjacent train sheds where scores of immigrants fresh off processing at nearby Ellis Island began their journey in the U.S. It suggests building a low-rise hotel, restaurants or a museum at the dilapidated, asbestos-laden sheds, which take up the equivalent of 11 football fields.


The hotel idea may have traction. Past efforts to rent out the terminal building for conferences were unsuccessful because “the biggest obstacle is the lack of an adjoining hotel, which makes the market for such events almost non-existent,” the report says.

The southern end of the park, near the New Jersey Turnpike, could see the most development. The report calls that area a “logical location” for new recreation venues such as “a boathouse and marina, field house for indoor sports, amusement park and outdoor amphitheater.”

Park advocates who have fought large-scale privatization efforts for decades reacted with outrage to the recommendations, saying they would irrevocably change Liberty State from a mostly passive park to a large commercial enterprise.

“This priceless land behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island should not be rented out in long-term leases for companies to make a profit,” said Sam Pesin, president of Friends of Liberty State Park whose father, Morris, helped create the park. “They would never put a hotel in Central Park. Why here?”

The move is part of Governor Christie’s “Sustainable Parks” initiative, unveiled in 2011, that calls for state parks to generate more money to offset the system’s $39.8 million budget. It costs $3.5 million to run Liberty State Park, of which $1.5 million is generated each year from leases to two restaurants and a private marina along with other concessions.

Of the 4 million people who visit the park each year, 600,000 pass through to take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty while another 600,000 visit the Liberty Science Center, the report says.


“The park is underused, and could be drawing millions more visits per year,” it says. “Liberty State Park could and should be more active.”

‘Enhanced amenities’

Bob Considine, a DEP spokes­man, said some of the most well-known parks across the country, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks, offer “enhanced amenities” like hotels and restaurants.

“We feel these options for modest development, which represents less than 3 percent of the entire park, will take one of the crown jewels of the state park system and make it shine brighter with better amenities, facilities, programming and services,” Considine said.

The DEP says it should hire a master planner to analyze the ideas in Tuesday’s report as well as engage stakeholder groups before committing to a project. The final decision would rest with the DEP commissioner.

Since it opened in 1976, Liberty State Park has long been targeted by private companies for development due to its dramatic views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor. But efforts to build an amphitheater, golf course, water park and other projects were fought by advocates and eventually turned down by state officials.

The park generated attention late last year when a last-minute amendment by the DEP was added to a bill that put some development powers at Liberty State in the hands of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. While the authority has never overseen a state park, it does have bonding power to help finance large public-private partnerships.

It was later revealed that the DEP had awarded a $120,000 grant to the planning group New Jersey Future last year to “analyze the potential attractiveness of the park to revenue-producing developers, contractors and concessionaires.”

The group hired Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, a New York-based consultant that has received praise for redesigning Bryant Park in Manhattan and Military Park in Newark.

But critics have complained that the process has been secretive. Multiple requests for Biederman’s report, including requests by The Record, have been denied through­out the year by the DEP, which said it is a draft document. A lawsuit by a Jersey City resident seeking the Biederman report is making its way through the court system, although a DEP spokes­man said that report may be posted online this week.
 
more...







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Online MÇA

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Some 200 people rally against privatization and development in Liberty State Park
By Michaelangelo Conte | The Jersey Journal
on November 01, 2015 at 3:35 PM, updated November 01, 2015 at 5:52 PM   

JERSEY CITY – Some 200 people joined with advocates for Liberty State Park in a bike ride and band festival today to demonstrate their opposition to potential privatization and development at the waterside park.

"Their plan is going to be an attack on our quality of life and an attack on the park's spirit and meaning," Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin shouted to the crowd in the park's historic train terminal concourse. "This park must not be bastardized, but preserved as and urban sanctuary... This is the people's park. It is a special gift from the people, to the people."

As part of Gov. Christie's "sustainable parks" initiative, the so-called "Liberty State Park assessment report" was developed at a cost of $120,000 by Biederman Redevelopment Ventures and submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection approximately nine months ago, but those plans have not been publicly released.

With two restaurants and a marina generating some commercial income, the park still operates with an annual loss of $500,000, according to reports.

To combat potential money-making ventures the Friends of Liberty State Park see as potentially destructive to the park that group has gone so far as to erect a billboard in Trenton to drive home the point the park "is not for sale."

Today's event was attended by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, state Sen. Sandra Bolden-Cunningham and Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro, Jr. In May, the group hosted a "picnic protest" addressing privatization.

Fulop said it is critical that "Jersey City's Liberty State Park stays as pristine and precious as it is today, without any kind of development in it."

The mayor said he runs in the park every day and noted that in the densely populated city, "This park is where people come to get away... On behalf of all the elected officials, I know we stand together."

Cunningham called the park as it is, a "critical asset to Jersey City, the region and the nation...Together we can save this park. Together this park will be what we the residents of Jersey City want it to be."

Lavarrro too called the park "precious open space" and said it should be kept free of privatization. Read more

Offline Frank M

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Playing both sides of the fence Morris Pesin Drive?

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Fulop letter to DEP: Jersey City will fight 'heavy development' at Liberty State Park
By Ben Shapiro | The Jersey Journal
on August 15, 2015 at 9:00 AM, updated August 15, 2015 at 9:08 AM

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has promised to fight "any plan of heavy development inside" Liberty State Park and warned that a citizen army would be backing him in a strongly worded letter to the state environmental chief today.

The letter, like one co-authored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Jersey City, is in response to state legislation that critics say gave the newly created Meadowlands Regional Commission power to implement and approve development at Liberty State Park.

"My administration will oppose any plan of heavy development inside the park," wrote Fulop. "We will oppose it as strongly and loudly as possible."

In his letter, the Jersey City mayor urged Bob Martin, the Department of Environmental Protection commissioner, to keep the state park on the Hudson River a pristine, passive park. He cited his city's role in the history of the park -- 165 acres were donated in 1966 -- as well as the park's role in making Jersey City attractive to residents and major businesses.

"Any development plans will be subject to Jersey City's zoning rules and regulations," Fulop said in the letter. "That means citizens will get to have their say. And I can tell you, local residents and visitors from around the entire region will fight against plans for construction."

The controversy over Liberty State Park began late last year when legislators hatched a cost-saving plan to combine the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

Included in the legislation was a plan to eliminate the Meadowlands District tax-sharing program -- towns with waterfront tax ratables gave money each year to towns without them -- and replace it with revenue from a special tax on hotels in the district.

But at the 11th hour, a section was slipped into the bill that said the new commission had the power to "evaluate, approve, and implement any plan or plans for the further preservation, development, enhancement, or improvement of Liberty State Park and the buildings, structures, properties, and appurtenances related thereto, or incidental to, necessary for, or complimentary to the park."

A "fix" bill kept much of the same language, but noted that there must be public hearings on any proposed development at the park; and that the the DEP would have final say on development plans. Read more

Online MÇA

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Letter: Christie's plans will destroy Liberty State Park
« Reply #6 on: 07-24-2015, 01:42pm »
Letter: Christie's plans will destroy Liberty State Park
By Letters to the Editor | The Star-Ledger
on July 23, 2015 at 8:00 AM, updated July 23, 2015 at 11:12 AM

The Star-Ledger's July 6 editorial clearly described the danger that the "hallowed ground" of Liberty State Park is in due to the coming large scale privatization plans of Gov. Chris Christie.

LSP is N.J.'s crown jewel park overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and it was our 1976 bicentennial gift to the nation. It provides open space, inspiring vistas, lawns and walking paths for its annual 5 ½ million visitors to enjoy.

The governor's goal of LSP paying for itself is sickening. Parks serve the public good, and are therefore funded by taxes. The governor's call for the N.J. Sports and Exposition Authority's bonding power and planning involvement for LSP casts aside the 39 years of overwhelming public consensus against long-term leases for this priceless public land, no matter what revenue is promised.

LSP already brings in $1.5 million annually from the marina, two restaurants and the Statue Cruises lease, along with special use permits and other revenue sources. Liberty Science Center and the ferries to our national monuments provide enough "tourist attraction."

Park supporters will fight against plans that take this open space and cause LSP traffic jams.

Sam Pesin is a resident of Jersey City and president of The Friends of Liberty State Park. Read more

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Liberty State Park bill signed by Christie has park enthusiasts concerned
By Ben Shapiro | The Jersey Journal
on July 07, 2015 at 6:48 PM, updated July 07, 2015 at 6:49 PM

JERSEY CITY — Gov. Chris Christie has Liberty State Park advocates concerned after he signed into law yesterday a bill that keeps the park's jurisdiction under the newly formed Meadowland's Regional Commission.

Friends of the park fear this will lead the way for private development at the country's most visited state park.

"It is outrageous that Gov. Christie signed a bill that was to supposed to protect Liberty State Park but instead opens it up to private development," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, in a statement. "In a shameful legislative maneuver, a bill that was to fix the problems in an earlier bill is turned upside down and actually makes things worse."

The original bill that Tittel was referring to was proposed by State Sen. Stephen Sweeney, and called for the removal of Liberty State Park from the Commission's authority.

Instead, the bill was deemed unlikely to be approved by the governor and was altered to have the park remain in the commission's jurisdiction.

However, the bill gives the DEP commissioner the ability to have final say on development plans for the park and allows one public hearing at the park when projects are being considered.

"It has a couple of improvements from the December back room bill," said Sam Pesin, president of Friends of Liberty State Park. "It is better that the commissioner has clear final say rather than the autonomous Meadowlands agency."

Also, in addition to those clauses which were part of the State Assembly's proposed bill regarding the park, the new legislation calls for the DEP commissioner when a plan is under review to, "prepare an assessment of environmental impacts on the plan, and how those impacts, if any, may be avoided, minimized, or mitigated."

Still, the bill's departure from its original language has left Pesin concerned about the park's future.

"The fact that the governor refused to promise to sign Sen. Sweeney's first version that would have separated Liberty State Park from the new Meadowlands Commission shows his administration's determination to push large scale privatization plans," said Pesin.

Also, while the law gives the DEP commissioner final say on plans for the park, it also gives him the opportunity to propose new developmental projects as well. Read more

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New bill gives DEP commissioner final word on Liberty State Park development
By Patrick Villanova | The Jersey Journal
on March 18, 2015 at 8:07 AM, updated March 18, 2015 at 8:08 AM

Any plans to commercially develop Liberty State Park would be subject to approval by the New Jersey's chief environmental official under legislation that has won Assembly approval.

The Assembly commerce committee on Monday approved provisions aimed at changing a law signed by Gov. Chris Christie last month that put the approval process for commercial development under the newly created Meadowlands Regional Commission.

The new measures, introduced by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Secaucus, call for the environmental protection commissioner to authorize any development plans and require a public hearing to be held in the event of privatization.

"Speaker Prieto has consistently said that the DEP should have final say on any plans involving Liberty State Park,'' said Philip Swibinski, a spokesman for Prieto. "He has worked with environmental advocacy groups and other stakeholders to ensure that this always remains the case by sponsoring this legislation and he will continue to support it."

President of the Friends of Liberty State Park Sam Pesin praised the development and said the legislation will ensure that public participation happens. Read more

Offline Sue2dRescue

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Apparently, the modifying language stipulating that the MRC would only review LSP plans for development was not included in the legislation--the bill still states the MRC has the power to approve and implement plans. From FOLSP.
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Prieto to introduce bill that would protect Liberty State Park from development
By The Associated Press
on February 11, 2015 at 8:00 AM, updated February 11, 2015 at 9:40 AM

TRENTON - Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is set to introduce a bill that would bar a newly created commission from approving development plans at Liberty State Park.

Prieto, a Democrat, will make the measure public Thursday, a week after Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, signed a bill into law forming the commission despite environmental and other groups' protests, Prieto spokesman Philip Swibinski said Tuesday.

The new bill comes after Christie said last week he signed the measure based on an agreement with lawmakers that they would address "concerns with the bill."

The legislation signed by Christie consolidated the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and the Meadowlands Commission into a new board called the Meadowlands Regional Commission. Under that legislation, the commission would have the power to approve and implement development at Liberty State Park, which is now under the state Department of Environmental Protection's authority.

Prieto and state Sen. Paul Sarlo, a Democrat, announced their intention to modify the new law quickly. The new legislation would clarify that the DEP will retain control of the park over the newly established Meadowlands Regional Commission. Read more

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Liberty State Park advocates fear bill, ballot measure will harm waterfront gem
By Sudip Bhattacharya | The Jersey Journal
on January 03, 2015 at 3:03 AM

JERSEY CITY — Friends of Liberty State Park, the nonprofit group that advocates for the Jersey City waterfront park, is waging battles on two fronts that they say will have lasting negative impacts on the urban, waterfront oasis.

One measure, adopted by both houses of the state legislature last year, the Hackensack Meadowlands Agency Consolidation Act, would merge the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

As a result, towns that now have to contribute to a fund to compensate municipalities that are prohibited from developing in the Meadowlands would no longer have to pay into the fund, according to proponents of the bill.

The "contributing towns" in Hudson County are North Bergen and Secaucus. In Hudson, Jersey City and Kearny receive money annually from the program.
But the Friends of Liberty State Park (FOLSP) fear some control of the park would be taken from the state Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Parks and Forestry, which has managed the park since 1976, and given to the new consolidated entity.

Second, the group believes language in the bill could give a green light to increased commercialism at the park.

The language that concerns the FOLSP states in part, the new commission "may avail itself of any plans under review by the Department of Environmental Protection from any source that may promote expanded and diverse recreational, cultural, and educational opportunities for visitors to Liberty State Park and provide greater access to park facilities."

This wording "sounds very innocent," according to Sam Pesin, president of FOLSP, "but it is an effort to privatize and commercialize Liberty State Park. That's the main thing happening here."

Read more

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