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Thursday, August 11, 2005Past Issues - S | M | T | W | T | F | S
 
South Jersey

March 4, 1998

Burlco man determined to snare battleship

By CAROL COMEGNO
Courier-Post staff

The Battleship 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 North Jersey.

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.



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