funds raised for battleship
By CAROL COMEGNO
CAMDEN--While Bayonne and Jersey
City declared a truce Wednesday in their quest for the battleship
USS New Jersey as a museum, enthusiastic supporters of a Camden
site raised more money for their cause at a cocktail party.
Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler announced Wednesday his city
will not submit an application to the Navy to compete with Bayonne
in an effort to bring the ship to the Hudson River.
Sen. John Matheussen, R-Gloucester, and other supporters of
a Camden site said the Bayonne-Jersey City compromise seems to
be an act of desperation. "It appears those two cities are
trying to alter and compromise the nonprofit commission's September
vote to ask the Navy to place the ship at the Military Ocean
Terminal in Bayonne," the senator said Wednesday night at
a fund- raiser attended by more than 200 people at the Harbour
League Club in Camden.
"They see that the Bayonne application will not hold
up and are saying well, we might put it here, we might put it
there. The Navy will decide -- not the state -- and it will be
at one location and the best location is Camden."
Schundler and Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria agreed that if the
ship goes to Bayonne and does not financially survive, Bayonne
would support moving it to Liberty State Park in neighboring
Jersey City provided the New Jersey Battleship Commission agrees.
"I think we should unite behind one application to ensure
the ship doesn't eventually go to another state," Schundler
said. He later admitted he doubts a museum operation in Bayonne
would be successful.
The cocktail party was sponsored by members and supporters
of the Home Port Alliance, the nonprofit group of elected officials,
labor leaders, and citizens that will file a Camden application
for the ship with the Navy by the May 26 deadline. The event
raised about $12,000 to add to the more than $4 million already
committed locally by government agencies and the federal empowerment
Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth, the state commission
chairman, appeared Wednesday with Schundler and Doria in Jersey
City and joined the call for unity. "The popular Hudson
County waterfront shared by Jersey City and Bayonne offers the
highest visibility and the greatest tourist potential for this
famed battleship," he said in a statement. "The USS
New Jersey deserves nothing less."
Camden supporter Fred Schlobahm of Cinnaminson said the Delaware
River is the perfect site because it has fresh water, is kinder
to a ship's hull, is where the ship was built and has a tourism
market in Camden and Philadelphia.