Meeting to Decide Fate of Route 9W and Palisades

By Jen Benepe

On Monday, the commissioners in charge of the Palisades Parkway –and the area along Route 9W–will be voting on whether to allow a $23.7 billion foreign corporation to build a high rise along the historic park that has had height restrictions since it was first created.

LG wants to break the historic agreement in the Palisades Park not to build higher than 35 feet, allegedly to accommodate a massive parking lot. But opponents say the real reason is so they can have a great view– a view that no one else has.

That company, LG Electronics, which is Korean owned and operated–and whose profits go back to that country, wants to change an historic agreement between the Palisades Park and its original founders who specified that no building along the park rise above two stories.

The proposed building’s height is 8 stories in an area zoned for a maximum of 35 feet.

In the 1930’s, at the behest of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Rockefeller family donated money to buy large parcels of land on the Palisades allowing it to become a pristine park that it is now.

The preservation from development of a 15-mile stretch from the George Washington Bridge to the New York-New Jersey state line was part of the deal with John D. Rockefeller who put up part of the $1.5 million to buy out 2,500 acres from existing owners.

LG’s board of directors is solidly Korean. No sympathy here for the historic tradition in the United States for a park that was created with a binding agreement to preserve the skyline. Source: LG’s investor relations website. You’ll have to dig to find it though.

The commissioners of the parks of New York and New Jersey will be convening in Fort Lee, NJ on Monday, Feb. 24, to vote on a resolution that states their disapproval of the new development. However, it is not clear if passage of the resolution will successfully block LG’s plans.

Opposing the new high-rise is Protect the Palisadeswho are asking the public to attend the meeting on Monday to voice their disapproval of LG’s plan (see below for details.) (Of course you can also attend to voice your approval.)

LG has plastered their plans for the new buildings with “green” and “sustainable,” buzzwords, and an incredible “platinum” LEED’s designation, though their plans for the many-storied building is intended to make way for a larger parking lot.

Instead of encouraging visitors to visit by bicycle and mass transit, the company is building more space to accommodate car traffic, thereby adding more carbon to the environment. And by building high it is also seeking to destroy one of the best untouched environments, say opponents.

No plans have been made to increase cycling to the location, nor to make Route 9W safe for cyclists when so many hundreds of drivers will be turning onto the campus.

What’s more LG’s incessant banging on the “green” drum has shown little in real results. According to Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics, LG is ranked 13th (jointly with Toshiba) out of 15 leading electronics makers in November 2011, scoring 2.8 out of 10 (that’s bad.) “In the Guide the company scored badly on the Energy criteria, being criticized for setting a weak target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and not making renewable energy part of its low carbon strategy,” writes Wikipedia.

And Choice magazine, in independent tests of popular LG fridge models in 2010, found the energy consumption in two models was higher than claimed by LG. In other words, the company has had difficulty telling the truth to the public.

An image from Protect the Palisades.

LG’s insistence that they need space for a parking lot may be little more than a thinly veiled ploy so that LG executives can bring clients to their top floor to survey an unobstructed view up and down the Hudson River.

‘We know of no comparable reason for LG to build high other than that they’ll get a great view,” said Joe Rappaport who is spearheading the effort of Protect the Palisades.

He noted that previously the company had boasted of the views they would have on their website — boasts that have been removed since the controversy over the height of the proposed building surfaced.

Notwithstanding that LG’s 2012 sales were 23.7 billion dollars–allowing the company the funds to pay for an underground lot or to provide for mass transit and cycling options.

The plan is not only against the original agreement that created the Palisades, but opens the door to more companies that will want to expand up–and above the tree line, say opponents, a fear that is not unreasonable. Recent high rise projects have been approved and are underway in Fort Lee, NJ, just south of the George Washington Bridge. One such project is over 48 stories high, and lords over the south end of the Palisades park.

The buildings that LG wants to build–will be far and away above the historic Palisades tree line, against the agreement that formed the park in the 1930’s.
LG relies heavily on the assertion that its plans will be “green” but their renderings instead show the great views they’ll have of Manhattan thanks to their new height–illegal under the historic provisions of the Palisades. This, to accommodate a huge, above-ground parking lot to boot.

Meanwhile, just about every single federal, state, and local entity has been against LG’s upwards expansion. Even the federal office in charge of the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency, refused to back LG’s plan.

Conversely, the Mayor of Englewood Cliffs has backed the project, despite the fact that it will bring down property values in the area, destroy the pristine nature of Route 9W, and add unwanted traffic.

In a move that demonstrates that money could lie at the root of Englewood Cliff’s sanguine approval, six mayors in the surrounding towns of Alpine, Closter, Demarest, Harrington Park, Tenafly and Rockleigh, have signed a petition against the development.

“We need you to join us at a crucial meeting of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission this Monday, Feb. 24 at 11:30 a.m. at the Fort Lee Historic Park in Fort Lee,” writes Rappaport. ” The Commission will vote on a resolution opposing LG’s plan to build its tower (PIPC RESOLUTION February 24 2014) – Passing this resolution will be an important show of support from the PIPC for our position.”

To RSVP for the meeting on Monday, please click here.

What: Vote on resolution opposing LG tower at meeting of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission

When: Monday, Feb. 24, 11:30 a.m.

Where: Fort Lee Historic Park, Fort Lee

Who: You and anyone you can bring or 646-284-1078

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