TRENTON – Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-15) , of Ewing, said Thursday the Christie Administration is shortchanging urban centers when it comes to park projects, particularly the still-incomplete multimillion-dollar Statehouse park project between the War Memorial and Statehouse that was first proposed more than a decade ago.
She said during an Assembly Budget Committee hearing there are no parks for people living in urban areas that are accessible enough for residents there to go to.
“I don’t know what it takes to understand that urban centers are disproportionately being affected by this budget,” she said, calling Trenton an extremely historic site. “Don’t you think this administration should be making that investment?”
The administration defunded the statehouse park project.
Coleman said the park would have linked opportunities for students to learn, for businesses to grow, and would provide summer and construction jobs.
“Isn’t Trenton entitled to that?” she asked.
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said there aren’t enough funds to complete the project, adding that a lot of tough choices needed to be made by the department and it needs to invest in “current assets.”
There are 39 state-owned parks in New Jersey.
Watson-Coleman responded that the administration must rethink its priorities.
“It needs to be rethought. All the sacrifices can’t be at the bottom of the (economic) food chain.”
Martin added that the DEP budget calls for funding two other park projects in Trenton, one of which is the Canal Park.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, (R-12), of Red Bank, said the administration was right to not continue to fund “a boondoggle.” He also said it was wrong for Coleman, who had stepped out of the hearing when he was speaking, to accuse the administration of shortchanging urban park projects.
“It’s absolutely fabricated and uncalled for,” he said.
However, Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald, (D-6), of Voorhees, said more needs to be done to make Trenton a city other than one that contains “blacktop after blacktop.”
“I don’t see the respect for the capital city that we as a government should show. The families of this city sacrifice a lot to house us. “