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

June 24, 1998

Can't let Bayonne net battleship New Jersey

We were impressed by two elements of Bayonne's aggressive move to have the USS New Jersey anchored in that city.

The first is the stark, bleak location the USS New Jersey Battleship Commission is promoting as the grand old ship's new home.

The second is how the locals in Bayonne are actively raising money and working to make their dream of bringing the New Jersey there a reality.

We think the commission's wanting Bayonne - chiefly because it's close to New York City's tourists - is off base.

The ship should return to its real home, the Delaware River, where it was launched from Philadelphia in 1943 after people in this area poured their labor, love and patriotism into it.

We reached that conclusion after studying the issue from afar. We felt a closer look was called for, so Kim Mulford, who handles letters to the editor, was dispatched to Bayonne and told to see it as a tourist would.

Sometimes being a reporter isn't all that glamorous.

The first landmark after leaving the Turnpike was a three-story oil tank with huge red letters on it.

'The striking sensation, however,' wrote Mulford, 'was of sewer stench. I couldn't see what caused it because my eyes were watering.'

Nevertheless, she found the proposed site for the ship's anchorage, an area of abandoned warehouses and thick weeds. Through a heavy haze, she could barely see Manhattan's skyscrapers. One wonders what it would take to get a tourist from, say, Iowa to leave the comfort of the Big Apple and seek out Bayonne.

When Mulford asked a local resident what there was to do there, he identified an ice skating rink and a movie theater to be built in a few years.

'And you can just bop over to New York. Just take the tubes. I'm going over to see a show tonight,' he said. Bayonne residents themselves leave town for entertainment.

That makes it all the more ironic they would try to lure tourists from New York. But, give them credit, they've got spunk.

At a street fair on Bayonne's main drag, the Liberty Classics Car Club had a booth to collect money to bring the USS New Jersey 'home.' Residents justify calling it 'home' by noting the ship was docked briefly in Bayonne in the 1950s.

Several South Jersey lawmakers and U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., are on record as favoring bringing the ship - now berthed in Washington state - to Camden's developing Waterfront.

Camden County Freeholder Pat Jones, Camden Mayor Milt Milan and Sen. John Matheussen, R-Gloucester, are forming a committee to organize South Jersey's efforts.

Jones can be reached at 225-5305 by phone or on the Net at Her mailing address is 520 Market St., Courthouse, 7th Floor, Camden, N.J. 08102-1375.

If South Jersey residents want to bring the New Jersey back to its real home, they'd better get busy, organize and show their interest. The people of Bayonne are determined - and way out front.

USS New Jersey Home Page

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