Page 7
Spring 2013
The Trust for Public Land organiza-
tion, a not-for-profit turnkey opera-
tion, agreed to assist in brokering a
deal if a source could be found. TPL
will often front cash to preserve a
site while awaiting bureaucratic ap-
provals, which are assured, but
where delay in appropriating the
funds might cause loss of the site.
Just when it looked like the site
might be lost, an unlikely suitor
stepped in. The Port Authority of
New York and New Jersey was cre-
ated in 1921 to expedite a cross-
harbor tunnel that would expedite
shipment of freight between rail lines
that ended in New Jersey with deep-
water terminals in Manhattan and
Brooklyn. There had been much
squabbling between New York and
New Jersey over use of their shared
harbor. Throughout its history, the
Port Authority had focused solely on
transportation and development with
little regard to the importance of the
natural features of the harbor.
Early in the 21st century, a $60 mil-
lion dollar fund had been established
by the PA to aid in the “preservation
of natural areas” in the harbor. None
of it had been spent at the time of
the movement to establish this North
Shore waterfront park.
The PA went into negotiations with
the Blissenbach interests and the
Trust for Public Land. An agreement
was reached and the new park
seemed well on its way to becoming
an established fact.
Things are never that simple, howev-
er. What should have seemed obvi-
ous to all was that this post-industrial
site was certainly contaminated with
hydrocarbons, PCBs and the leaded
fragments of paint chipped from un-
told numbers of boats over the
The site belonged to the Parks De-
partment, now, and they still had no
So the site lay fallow. A little over a
year ago, the Port Authority looked
at their investment and saw nothing
but a fenced in, dormant property.
No picnics, no laughing children, no
kites, no bubbles.
They then
pledged an additional one million
dollars to remediate the site. Still,
another building season passed with
no activity.
Suddenly, late this fall, with no fan-
fare and not even a sign on the
street, construction activity began
below Van Street. New water ser-
vice is being run in to the site via
huge coils of copper tubing. Water-
proof fabric protects newly laid-down
soil from runoff from the gravel of the
A serpentine walk in the grassy area
between the parking area and the
newly restored bulkheads gives a
panoramic display of the Bayonne
Bridge and maritime activity along
the Kill Van Kull. Scenic Bayonne
looms in the distance. To their cred-
it, New Jersey and the city of Ba-
yonne have bought old, industrial
shorefront areas and converted them
to parkland. Gulls hover in the drafts
awaiting visitors who will feed them.
The Marine Power and Light build-
ing, which was used to house the
Island Park’s Enforcement Police
was heavily damaged by hurricane
Sandy. An investigation is currently
underway to see if the building
should be rehabilitated or replaced,
Pilings remain in place as well as the
ramps formerly used to lower boats
into the Kill. A long-range possibility
could be a city Request for Pro-
posals regarding an operator who
might restore the marina.
There is, apparently, no evidence in
this first phase of construction of any
provisions to actually touch the wa-
ter. There needs to be a “Friends’ of
this park established to advocate
and provide input to Parks and facili-
tate community interaction.
This leads to a further question.
What to call this fine interface with
the sea?
It is in West Brighton. It was owned
by the Blissenbachs; but no longer.
There is a movement afoot to have
the site named after an advocate for
the sea. He believed in waterfront
access. He loved the ocean and all
the creatures in it.
He looked to save the planet for chil-
dren and sought to encourage their
interaction with it.
He was cut down too soon and de-
serves a platform, which would hon-
or his activities and provide a forum
upon which to continue them.
Sullivan Marina Park would be a fit-
ting tribute to Kerry Sullivan and an
inspiration to those who love the har-
bor and love the sea.