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South Jersey

Feburary 4, 1999

More funds raised for battleship

Courier-Post staff

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 zone board.

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.

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