Tell us a little about yourself!
I'm president of the Friends of Liberty State Park (FOLSP) and the son of Morris Pesin, LSP's “father” who envisioned LSP and spearheaded the 18-year campaign to transform Jersey City's abandoned waterfront wasteland into a beautiful “free and green” park and then co-led many battles against privatization.
I retired three years ago from teaching preschoolers, which I loved doing for over 40 years and the last 16 years were at Jersey City's downtown Garden Preschool Cooperative – so I could spend all my time advocating for the LSP Protection Act, essential after 45 years of privatization battles, to protect our priceless park.
Tell us about your business! How did it start? Biggest challenge? Favorite part? Where do you see it going?
The Friends of LSP is an all-volunteer non-profit started in 1988 as a grassroots advocacy group dedicated to protecting, improving and informing the public about LSP. our local, state and national treasure park. As our "urban backyard behind Lady Liberty, LSP provides major quality of life benefits and the pandemic has shown even more clearly that parks are an emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical public health resource.
My favorite part of my LSP advocacy is knowing and meeting super great people who care about LSP.
The current crossroads battle is for the Protection Act to once and for all end privatization threats and start a peaceful era with NJ's exciting "interior" plans for 185 acres of diverse nature habitats and also 50 acres of active recreation (whole project may take 5 years) and 11 acres of active recreation outside the interior (could start to be open next year). The Act allows for small scale commercial activities but requires public hearings and a public comment period for such proposals.
The opponent of the Act (S1449 and A2189) is Paul Fireman, the billionaire owner of the adjacent Liberty National Golf Course who wants to privatize and destroy LSP's Caven Point Natural Area to relocate golf holes for multimillionaires. Caven Point is a 22 acre "Migratory Bird Habitat and Nesting Area" and education resource for 100's of students annually. Fireman's contributions and falsehoods by his lobbyist and his funded front group have blocked the bill but our grassroots cause will persevere and prevail!
Besides fighting necessary park battles, FOLSP has funded over 950 trees, the park's gardens, bulletin boards, etc. and has an annual salt marsh cleanup. To do volunteer gardening (with 1000's of tulip bulbs to plant in October) please contact the park gardener Maria here!
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
My biggest source of inspiration is that The People have put democracy into action to fight for a free park behind Lady Liberty since LSP opened in 1976. Tens of thousands have stood up against privatization of our public land. Currently there are 111 groups in "The Coalition to Pass the Protection Act" (check it out here) and as of 10/4, there are 29,800 signers of the Protection Act petition. Sign the petition here!
What do you like to do for fun?
See live bands.
Favorite Local Spots:
- Restaurant - Hamilton Pork
- Coffee Shop - I don't drink coffee but love the banana bread at Dames Coffee Expresso
- Place to Shop - nearby Key Food supermarket with its friendly staff
- Bar - I rarely drink and since the music venue bar FM closed, my fave place for music and a drink is White Eagle Hall
- Outdoor Spot - Liberty State Park- Honorable Mentions -
Hamilton Park(where I took my preschool classes),
Berry Lane Park for bands and festivals
Canco Park for events and native plant gardens
Audubon Park – my childhood park
Riverview Park in neighborhood where my father grew up