4, 1998 |
man determined to snare battleship
By CAROL COMEGNO
New Jersey Commission hopes to see the ship return to the state
to become a museum in Bayonne across from New York harbor.
Stop all engines.
A Burlington City businessman has what he
believes is a better location for the historic ship - Burlington
Island in the Delaware River, where a proposal tp build a golf
course and recreation area recently was unveiled. At the moment,
the ship is in the state of Washington.
John Milligan, owner of Bookbinder's Liquor
Store on High Street, has started a one-man crusade that is gaining
grass-roots support in the city.
Almost 700 people have signed a petition urging
that the USS New Jersey be brought to Burlington. Passers-by
stop everyday to peer at Bookbinder's window display on the ship.
'Everybody says I'm crazy. That we will never
get the New Jersey, but that's what they say about a lot of things
- that they can't be done,' Milligan said Tuesday in his store.
He spoke with all the conviction of Burlington
naval hero Capt. James Lawrence when he uttered the famous phrase,
''Don't Give up the Ship!' in the War of 1812.
'It would be a great economic boon to the
city and its merchants because it would bring thousands of people
each year as tourists,'' Milligan said. ''The city is in desperate
need of something big to come here for it to survive.'
He said he would like to see it come to South
Jersey because 'North Jersey gets everything.'
The ship, in fact, was built on the Delaware
River at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard just across from Camden.
The channel is deep enough for the ship to
maneuver, according to the U.S Coast Guard in Philadelphia.
Milligan said the ship possibly could be docked
inside the 400-acre island in the deep 100-acre lake there even
through a dock would have to be built to handle visitors.
Council President Rick Bovine said he believes
the council would look favorably on the idea. 'Of course, the
city financially would not have the funds to go about it, but
then no city would have that,' he said.
Before it can come to New Jersey, Congress
must first pass pending legislation allowing the Navy to release
the battleship from its mothballed fleet in Bremerton, Wash.
Even if that occurs, Burlington would face
major political problems in trying to wrest the ship away from
The Battleship New Jersey Commission is pushing
for a final resting place in Bayonne and has raised $3 million
toward the moving expense.
Vincent Falso, a member of the commission
and president of the Battleship Museum Society, said the north
was viewed as a more strategic location to attract visitors because
of the dense population and its proximity to New York City.
'It's a wonderful idea to get something of
great historic value to dock in our area. If we can't get the
New Jersey because the North Jersey plan as gone so far, let's
go after something else of significance for our area. I would
be thrilled to work with Burlington folks on it,' said state
Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington.