September 11, 1998
loses bid for USS New Jersey
By CAROL COMEGNO
TRENTON - The New Jersey Battleship
Commission wanted the state's namesake ship docked near the Statue
of Liberty in Jersey City but instead voted as expected Thursday
to give it a permanent berth in Bayonne.
In a vote that left Camden a distant third, commission members
chose to send the Navy's most decorated battleship to Bayonne
because it is the only site with a pier already available. Eight
of 14 battleship commissioners voted for Bayonne, but most said
they did so reluctantly. Four voted for Liberty State Park at
The commission's only South Jersey representative, Joseph
Dyer of Pennsville, Salem County, cast the lone vote for Camden's
proposal to put the ship near where it was built on the Delaware
River. One commissioner was undecided and abstained.
South Jersey officials vowed to challenge the decision and
even take their case to court if necessary. The commission recommendation
goes to Gov. Christie Whitman.
Dyer described the vote as a loss for South Jersey and the
state. "Camden deserved a better shot," he said.
Paul Barrett, a Runnemede resident who attended the vote,
did not submit another pro-Camden petition with 2,000 signatures.
"What was the use? This meeting was a sham," he
Most of the eight commissioners who selected Bayonne said
they voted for it with reservations because they were uncertain
an offshore dock at Jersey City would be ready by the end of
1999. That's when the ship would arrive if the Navy approves
the commission's application.
Bayonne, where the ship was stored after World War II and
the Korean War, proposes docking the ship along an existing pier
on the Port Jersey Channel off the Hudson River.
"If the Navy disapproves of the site, we have two other
sites," said commission chairman Joseph Azzolina, a Republican
assemblyman from Monmouth County, who praised the plans of all
Conceding that Bayonne's industrial pier site "looks
terrible," Azzolina said dilapidated warehouses would be
torn down and pointed to plans to build an entertainment complex
nearby as reasons for the approval.
"I would prefer Jersey City, but it's not what I like
but what's practical, and they (Bayonne) have a dock there,"
Some commissioners criticized the vote.
"This is a muddy decision, and I am not happy about it,"
said commissioner Gloria Patrizio of Short Hills, who voted for
She said the USS New Jersey - which fought in World War II,
Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War - should be placed by
the most visible site in the state next to another symbol of
freedom, the Statue of Liberty.
Commissioner Walter Olkowski of Bridgewater said he "would
like to see it have a place of honor in Liberty State Park, but
I will vote for Bayonne - the only place that can take it right
now." His sentiments were echoed by at least five other
commissioners who voted for Bayonne.
In favoring the Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne, the majority
ignored advice from one of its own experts - commission vice
chairman and retired naval commander Thomas Gorman, who will
prepare the application for the ship. He advised against berthing
the ship directly alongside what will soon become a deep water
port in the Port Jersey Channel.
Gorman, of Lincroft, also made a strong case for Camden, saying
the Navy prefers freshwater sites for its ships. He also said
a ship is safer docked slightly away from a landside pier than
directly alongside it. Later, he voted for Jersey City as the
most visible site but described Camden as a "strong second."
Commissioners praised Camden's aesthetic Delaware River view,
but Azzolina and commissioner Eugene Simko, a business professor
from Middletown, concluded tourism from the New Jersey State
Aquarium and Philadelphia could not support the ship museum.
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