By CAROL COMEGNO
The pier cost for the battleship USS New Jersey has risen
to at least $10 million - more than twice as much money as
the Home Port Alliance now has to construct a dock on the
Home Port Alliance officials confirmed the new estimate,
which is forcing the group to review its financial
commitments before deciding its next step in planning the
museum. The project involves ship restoration, the T-
shaped, 400-foot pier and a landside museum.
The alliance has been accelerating pier design and
construction in order to meet a self-imposed deadline of
Sept. 2 so that the historic warship can be open to the
public as soon as possible. The alliance had hoped to award
pier construction and museum architect contracts by the end
of the month.
"We are trying to confirm all the numbers and identify
our funding sources and seeing whether we can use revenue
marked for one thing for another area," said Patricia
Jones, co-chairwoman of the nonprofit alliance.
"We've got to have a pier to have the ship in place,"
said Jones, noting that the alliance has a couple of weeks
to resolve the funding shortfall.
Jones said the preliminary cost estimate of $5 million,
which was proposed when the alliance applied to the Navy
for the ship in 1999, did not involve fast-tracking, two
dockside elevators and a more complex and even stronger
mooring design recently approved by the alliance.
In a related development, Delaware River Port Authority
vice chairman Glenn Paulsen, who is also an alliance
trustee, has said no more money controlled by his agency
will be spent on the project until a budget plan that "
makes sense" is in place.
"To obligate funds that the HPA doesn't have ... would
demonstrate a complete lack of fiscal responsibility," he
wrote in a Feb. 9 letter obtained by the Courier-Post.
"I will not violate my fiduciary responsibility. The
Home Port Alliance should not under any circumstances enter
into a contract for which they cannot pay."
The DRPA has committed $2 million for operating costs
for the alliance, but is also the conduit for $6 million
committed by the Legislature and more than $2 million from
the state Department of Transportation.
Through board spokesman Liz Thomas of Ellipsis
Marketing, Paulsen declined to elaborate on the letter or
to speculate whether the DRPA would cover the shortfall for
the pier with a separate donation.
Jones said neither downscaling the pier nor delaying the
opening of the ship is being considered at this time.
Another hurdle to plans for pier construction are state
restrictions on pile-driving between March 15 and June 30,
the shad and herring spawning season. The alliance needs
the state Department of Environmental Protection to grant
an exception to the rule in order to finish the pier before
September. However, Larry Baier, chief of the Office of
Dredging, said he has not yet received an alliance request
and that the project must be justified.
About $4.7 million has been committed for the design
and construction of a new pier - $3.2 million by Camden
County and $1.5 million from the state Department of
None of the other $11 million in state aid and other
revenue is earmarked for the pier, and another $7.2 million
in proposed legislation by acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco
is intended for more below-deck tours and for the landside
The alliance was updated on the pier cost at its Feb. 7
private meeting. That led to another special meeting
Thursday that was held privately, as are all the board