Englewood Cliffs, NJ–April 19, 2014–Updated April 21, 2014.
Advocates have organized a ride next Sunday, April 27, to show their disapproval of a plan by LG Electronics to build a massive complex that would tower over the Palisades of New Jersey, and break a 100-year-old historic agreement.
The ride, planned for the weekend following Easter is being organized by a coalition of groups who oppose the company’s plan to build a tower that would break years of historic agreement by the towns along the seven-mile park to not build over the tree line.
“This project represents the epitome of irresponsible development, not only because it defaces a national natural landmark, but because of the total disregard for cyclist’ and pedestrian safety,” said Cyndi Steiner, executive director of the New Jersey Bike Walk Coalition, one of the groups organizing the ride.
The Palisades Park’s Route 9W provides one of the safest and longest bike routes for cyclists, and is reputedly the second most traveled bike route in the United States.
In the area of LG’s development along that route, the road is already heavily congested with motorists, lacks a safe shoulder for cyclists, and is one of the most unsafe sections of the 7-mile stretch along Route 9W–a state-regulated bike route– adjacent to the Palisades.
Additionally, advocates say that the new building height, if successful, would attract similar development along the roadway, leading to increasingly dangerous conditions for cyclists.
“The precedent set by this project of uncontrolled development along this corridor will forever change Rt 9W from a pleasant and relatively safe cycling route to one of congestion and traffic snarls. It’s not just about scenery, but the safety and enjoyment of cyclists, walkers and motorists alike, ” said Steiner. In other words, a paradise would be ruined forever.
In March, the Director of the U.S. National Park Service, Jonathan B. Jarvis, told the Englewood Cliffs Planning Board that its approval of the 143-foot LG tower would “introduce a massive incompatible feature” that would endanger the Palisades.
How LG got permission to do that is in itself offensive, and possibly illegal say some of the advocates off the record.
A planning committee was formed in the city of Englewood Cliffs who approved the variance from long held restrictions, then disbanded the group, possibly conveniently to avoid public scrutiny and to prevent the chance of having to meet again to reverse their decision, said advocates off the record. Hints have been made by some opponents that the mayor of Englewood Cliffs is accepting payoffs from the electronics giant, a claim that would be difficult to prove.
The mayor, Joseph C. Parisi, has said the project will bring additional jobs to the area, and that opponents are from New York City, worried about their view from the Cloisters.
But opponents say both arguments are misleading and not true: For one, a lower-constructed building would bring in just as many jobs. And most of the opposition is actually coming from residents, officials, elected officials in surrounding towns, and users of Route 9W and the adjacent Palisades Park. They also say that LG is just building high for the impending view–which the company advertises broadly –and proudly–on their website.
“There are smart development alternatives that would produce plenty of jobs and plenty of space for LG without a tower destroying a view that has been preserved for over 100 years,” said Steiner.
She also says that LG’s plan calls for allowing almost 50 percent of its employees to park on the streets around the development–adding to an already overloaded congestion on the local streets where cyclists are riding, and residents are parking.
In the meantime, six mayors of all of the adjoining towns that border Englewood Cliffs have made public statements against the plan, and they have been joined by a chorus of voices, including most recently senator Charles Schumer.
Eleven organizations filed suit in New Jersey Appellate Court on April 7 against the electronics company to block the building’s proposed height, among them the lead organization, Protect the Palisades, and including the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the Palisades Park Conservancy, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Regional Plan Association, the New Jersey Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In addition, four former governors of New Jersey have voiced their opposition to LG’s height plan, among them Gov. Christine Whitman. Almost a year ago the federal agency that protects the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency, refused to back the plan. In March, the Palisades Parks commissioners took the unusual step of formally voting their disapproval of the project.
Currently only the town of Englewood Cliffs has changed the historic agreement settled in the 1930′s that the land fronting the Palisades Park would be subject to a building height variance maximum of 35 feet.
But it seems that public sentiment regarding American tradition and history, have no influence on the Korean-based company who might only recognize the importance of Korean traditions. Such an example might be their grandmothers’ sainted Kimchi recipes which are closely guarded in every family.
Rather than respond to press inquiries, the company has published a website page entitled “Fact Vs. Fiction.” Their page is a carefully crafted PR piece chock full of innuendo and their own brand of fiction, asserting that only “New Yorkers” are complaining about the view, and that jobs will be lost if the building isn’t built this way. Both assertions are not factual.
Even the NY Times blogged about it,comparing LG’s awful planned huge parking lots and a towering structure that will ruin the Palisades, to a development by Samsung electronics in California that not only is really green, but respects its neighbors and takes into account modes of alternative transportation
“The project in San Jose is thoughtful. LG’s is a public shame,” wrote the author Michael Kimmelman.
The ride will be held on April 27, leaving from the Fort Lee Historic Park in Fort Lee, NJ at 9:30 AM.
The 25-mile ride will go from Fort Lee Historical Park to The Market (Rockland County). Ride map, elevation chart, and cue-sheet available at http://ridewithgps.com/routes/4391284
All ride levels welcome. Marshals for various ride levels. No children under 16.
Ride time: 9:30 AM; roll at 9:45 AM.
Location: Fort Lee Historical Park parking lot; $5 parking fee for motor vehicles. Overflow parking will be at the Ft Lee Municipal Parking Lot on Main St. in Ft Lee.
- All riders will be required to wear a bicycle helmet, sign a waiver, and provide emergency contact information before the ride; no headphones are allowed on the ride.
- No riders under 16 years; those between 16-18 years must be accompanied by an adult.
- Your name and email address will be shared with the Protect the Palisades campaign.
Please contact NJBWC at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions