A $149,000 preliminary operating budget for the Historic New Bridge Landing Park was approved at the recent meeting of the Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission.
Historic New Bridge Landing Park Chairman Michael Trepicchio explained that funding for the spending plan is part of legislation, passed by both the state senate and assembly in 2009 that redirects funding from the Division of Parks and Forestry to the commission.
“The law transfers administration from the state Department of Environmental Protection/Division of Parks and Forestry to Historic New Bridge Landing,” he said.
“All monies to be spent in operation of the Steuben House and Historic New Bridge Landing will be re-allocated to the commission,” he said.
Trepicchio and other members of the commission said they want to reopen the Steuben House for school groups and the public in general.
The Steuben House closed in 2007 after as nor’easter caused flooding in the house during April of that year, thus destroying numerous artifacts that belonged to the Bergen County Historical Society.
The proposed operating budget calls for hiring three part-time staff employees to run the facility.
“We are spending money to open the place,” Trepicchio said.
“And we need to start a constructive dialogue to do this and carry out the will of the people… this place deserves to be open.”
The spending plan also allocates funds for the hiring of a bookkeeper, utilities, building maintenance, landscaping, website, Internet and marketing.
Trepicchio said the budget was submitted to Trenton on May 10.
“In the scope of the state budget, this [$149.000] is a drop in the bucket,” he said.
Commenting on recent remarks made by a DEP spokesperson regarding the historic site and what he said was a lack of available funding, Trepicchio said it was “disheartening” to hear the site referred to by this individual as “a project.”
“If it’s anything, it is a significant place in American history, it is not a project,” he said.
“The mindset in Trenton needs to change, they (the administration) need to read the law, we, (the commission) are in compliance with it.”
Trepicchio then said that the state needs to come up with the money to fund the site.
“The public deserves it and they demand it,” he said.