Petty's Island should be preserved in its entirety because it:
1) Provides access to high quality open space -- It will provide access to high quality open space in densely populated Pennsauken and Camden where, according to population statistics, there is already a severe shortage of open space. Open space improves our quality of life and provides a safe place for our children to play and learn. Once an exclusive golf course community is built on Petty's, only the rich will have access.
The Governor and NJ legislature recently approved $353 million for more open space protection. Petty's Island is 393 acres and is being offered to the taxpayers for free. According to Assembly Majority Leader Joseph J. Roberts, Jr. (D-Camden, Gloucester), "When parks and recreational areas are established and maintained properly within our urban areas, the quality of life for those living there improves dramatically." "Keeping our existing open spaces green and providing for safe, new recreational areas will undoubtedly make our cities and other urban areas better places to live and to raise families" Roberts said.
According to Sen. Wayne R. Bryant (D-Camden, Gloucester), "In our urban areas, parks and open space are essential to preserving the quality of life and providing safe areas for our children to play." "By making park development and recreational preservation a priority in the Green Acres program, we are reestablishing our obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of inner city youth throughout New Jersey" Bryant said.
2) Citgo's cleanup plan is better for the Island's threatened and endangered species and humans too -- Citgo is legally obligated to clean up the contamination on the island to NJDEP standards. Once done, the Island will meet all safety standards for parkland. Citgo has committed in writing to remove all unwanted structures, piping, storage tanks and asphalt.
3) The developer's clean up to "residential standards" will result in expansive excavating, clearing and capping with tons of dredge spoils. They will need to "destroy the village in order to save it." There will be little if any native habitat left.
4) The Bald Eagles and black-crowned Knight Herons are threatened -- The developer's housing and golf course plan is based on "minimal protection" for a pair of bald eagles and the endangered herons. Worse, NJDEP is already on record as saying they may not enforce the state's regulations that would protect the island's natural resources. If a 300 foot waterfront development buffer for eagles and a 150 foot buffer for exceptional value wetlands is applied as DEP does "to all other projects in this area" that the "total buildable area of the island falls to 84.25 acres, and that if the smallest buffer that can be applied (1000 ft) is applied, the "total buildable area is only 62.6 acres, or less than 21% of the total area of the Island.
5) Brownsfield redevelopment is important and, according to federal wildlife experts, Petty's Island can set an important precedence in NJ and nationwide. Citgo has stepped up to the plate and accepted responsibility to clean up and restore the island's native habitat. They will establish a $2 million stewardship fund. This level of cooperation raise the bar for other cleanups and it should happen in NJ.
6) NJ residents overwhelming support open space protection and are willing to pay for it too. But here is 393 acres of high-quality open space being offered for free.
7) Open space provides economic benefits and stability so Pennsauken's economy will benefit by preserving Petty's Island - A recent study shows NJ State Parks and Forests Provide $1.2 Billion Per Year in Economic Benefits. The State of New Jersey's 39 parks and 11 forests provide economic benefits amounting to at least $1.2 billion per year, or $30 billion over a 25 year-period. According to NJ officials, "Our state parks and forests are part of the diverse landscape that makes New Jersey a great place to live, work and visit." "This study confirms that our investments in open space preservation pay off. When we preserve open space, not only do we protect the environment and provide recreational opportunities for families, we help boost the state's economy - one of the strongest in the nation."
Fred Stine, Citizen Action Coordinator
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Estuary Field Office: 856-854-5108
Main Office: 215-369-1188