(TRENTON) — In response to testimony given Thursday by state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin to the Assembly Budget Committee on the Christie administration’s decision to defund the construction of a public park behind the State House complex and fill in the historically significant Petty’s Run archeological dig site, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer) released the following statement:
“Governor Christie was quoted a week ago as saying ‘These [Historic Trust] grant awards are indicative of our comprehensive efforts to grow the Garden State Economy by spurring investment, generating jobs and attracting tourism opportunities to these areas.’
“It would seem, once again, that the governor’s so-called comprehensive efforts do not include Trenton or New Jersey’s other urban centers.
“New Jersey has 39 state parks, yet only one of them — Liberty State Park — is in an urban center. And the Petty’s Run site, which reports say Lt. Gov. Guadagno considers an eyesore, has extreme archeological significance, as it has revealed that Trenton was one of only five places in America that was producing steel in the 1750s.
“Yet, according to Commissioner Martin, defunding these projects was part of a strategy of sacrifice and prioritization.
“Commissioner Martin quoted a price tag of $80 million to complete the park project, a figure trumped up by the administration as justification for the project’s defunding. That figure includes the costs of beginning — and completing — phase 3 and phase 4 of the project, which includes building a pedestrian footpath over Route 29.
“To complete the current phase — preservation of the Petty’s Run dig and the completion of the park on the site of the old State House surface parking lot — would only cost $10 million, about $4 million of which already has been spent.
“The governor can’t have it both ways. You can’t spur investment, generate jobs and attract tourism on one project and then choose to hide behind the mantra of difficult times requiring sacrifices for another, especially one that already is underway and carries with it such historical significance.
“The people of Trenton already sacrifice much to play home to our state’s capitol. They should not be forced to also continually deal with this governor’s hypocrisy of saying one thing and doing another.”