A resolution passed by the Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission on June 2 instructs the state Department of Environmental Protection/Division of Parks and Forestry to transfer funding to the park commission within a 30-day period or face litigation for failing to do so.
Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission Chairman Michael Trepicchio said that the DEP is “in defiance” of a 2009 state law that directs the agency to fund the commission.
“They (the DEP) are in defiance of the law and should be held accountable, we need to move forward, this park deserves it, we all deserve it, and we do not need to sit here month after month hearing the same old nonsense from Trenton,” he said.
“We owe it to the public to open this place up.”
The Steuben House has been closed to the public since April 2007 after a Nor’easter damaged artifacts and furniture in the house belonging to the Bergen County Historical Society.
Trepicchio said he attended a recent meeting with state officials and was once again informed that there was no money in the state budget for New Bridge Landing.
A preliminary $149,000 operating budget was sent to Trenton back on May 10.
The chairman said that a letter was being sent to DEP Commissioner Bob Martin notifying him of the intent to sue if funding isn’t released and that letters on behalf of the park commission are being crafted by State Senators Loretta Weinberg and Gerald Cardinale and will also be sent to Trenton.
“How long are we going to accept that this place is closed? We have had dialogue after dialogue…the legislation passed in 2009 reallocates all funding to the Steuben House and state lands within the Historic New Bridge Landing Park or we will file suit and force them to uphold the law,” Trepicchio said, adding that he hoped that this would not have to happen.
The chairman said that if litigation takes place the commission would be represented by the state attorney general’s office.
Kevin Wright, secretary to the commission said that having the Steuben House closed to the public is “a sin.”
“By keeping this place closed the people of New Jersey, especially school children are being cheated,” he said.