let Bayonne net battleship New Jersey
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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