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

Editorial: Bickering over `Big J' hurts N.J.

Now that Congress has let its 30-day comment period pass without challenging the Navy's decision to award the USS New Jersey to Camden, it's time for all sides to recognize this fight is over. The "Big J" is coming to Camden -- as it should. Continued sniping only goes against the interests of every N.J. resident.

Democrats and Republicans joined hands Monday to celebrate the end of a tough battle. Congress had 30 days to overturn the Navy's decision to award the battleship to New Jersey. That deadline ended at 12:01 a.m. Sunday with no action from Congress.

The fight over the ship should have ended in January, when the Navy ruled that the Home Port Alliance's massive application for the ship was superior to one advocating placing the ship in Bayonne. Unfortunately, it didn't. And, defying logic, a couple of members of Congress continue to protest.

North Jersey U.S. Reps. Marge Roukema, a Republican, and Robert Menendez, a Democrat, have called for a review by the General Accounting Office. Menendez also has asked the Navy's inspector general to investigate. He says some type of political persuasion might have played a role in the ruling.

For months, a spirited battle was waged for the battleship between two groups of people who sincerely believed they had the best final berth site for the ship. At times, the struggle turned ugly.

But Camden and the Home Port Alliance won that fight. Camden, as they showed, simply is a better site. The USS New Jersey will be served best with a permanent Camden berth.

The work to make the future battleship memorial a success is only beginning. Renovations and repairs to the ship will be extensive. A Waterfront pier must be constructed. Shore facilities, including a viewing plaza, theater, interpretive walkway and reception building must be developed. Millions of dollars will be spent.

Roukema and Menendez would better serve their constituents and all of New Jersey by dropping their appeals and lending their talents and influence to making the battleship memorial a success.

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