Jersey City is a hardcore town with a tough reputation. There are pockets of high wealth in Jersey City and they are located downtown along the waterfront where views out the window frame the
Hudson River and the magnificent New York City skyline. Many say the best place to view the majesty of Manhattan is from the shores of New Jersey.


Jersey City was famous for being a big city
without many neighborhood parks and no golf course. The urban parks are
still missing, but over the last couple of years Jersey City’s first
golf course, the obnoxiously named — Liberty National — is set to
open on July 4.

If you want to play a round of golf at Liberty National with its view
of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty it will cost you. Liberty
National isn’t free and it is not a public space. Your initiation
fees alone will run you $400,000.00 USD. Former New York City Mayor
Rudy Giuliani and National Football League New England Patriots owner
Robert Kraft are already signed up as charter members.
Liberty National Facts:

  • 160 acres
  • Six finger-lake ponds
  • Manmade hills peaking at 40 feet
  • On the Second Hole (Par 3) you aim at the right shoulder of Lady Liberty
  • On the Fourth Hole Par 4) you hit directly into the view of Manhattan
  • For holes 8-13 you will see the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to the Southeast
  • The 18th Hole is a manufactured wetlands where seagulls abound
  • Liberty National is the most expensive golf course ever built. Here’s
    the official blurp from the designers on what you get for a $130 million course spanning of 7,400 yards and a par 70:

    Applied Development Company, in partnership with Willowbend
    Development Company, will create a one of a kind golf course on the
    western shore of the New York Bay overlooking the Statue of Liberty and
    the Manhattan skyline. This 18 hole championship caliber golf course,
    designed by Tom Kite and Bob Cupp, will have a 12-minute launch service
    to/from Manhattan to the Club, with an onboard concierge.

    Liberty
    National will have extensive golf practice facilities including
    double-ended grass tee practice range, putting and chipping greens, and
    indoor/outdoor teaching studio. The clubhouse will offer: a
    grille/lounge; banquet facilities; private meeting rooms; men’s and
    women’s locker room facilities; golf shop; spa and more.

    Are you swooning yet?
    Here’s why Liberty National is really costing $130 million as reported by the
    Wall Street Journal
    :

    Toxic-waste sites, it turns out, are popular places for
    golf courses. Golfers spend less time on the land than workers or
    homeowners, and their turf doesn’t weigh as much as office towers —
    which can squeeze toxins out into the surrounding area. Over the past
    40 years, more than 70 courses have been built on such land — many of
    them former landfills and eight are under way in New Jersey.

    But underground, the state of New Jersey says, much of the land harbors
    toxic lead, arsenic, beryllium, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),
    petroleum residues, chromium and other leavings from the defunct oil
    refineries, factories and U.S. Army training facility that all once
    operated on the site.
    Before Mr. Fireman took over the land [for Liberty National], previous
    owners spent $29 million on cleaning up the site. Remediation included
    layering two feet of soil over 120 of the 170 acres planned for the
    course, and covering 15 acres of some of the more potent stuff with a
    half-inch thick polyethylene blanket.

    As part of a new “brownfields to greenfields” program for reclaiming
    some of the state’s 10,000 Superfund sites, toxic-waste dumps and
    contaminated landfills, New Jersey has given its blessing and aid to
    the Liberty National project and about a half-dozen other golf course
    developments on toxic sites.

    Golf and parks are favored for sites like Liberty’s because
    they are too dirty for residences or offices. It takes only about four
    hours to play a game of golf. So the exposure to potentially hazardous
    fumes is much less than a resident or office worker would get.

    “A
    lot of times the land is not compacted enough to withstand the weight
    of a building,” says Linda Garczynski, the U.S. Environmental
    Protection Agency’s brownfields director.
    In a number of cases, golf courses on polluted grounds have erupted.
    Bowling balls, car bumpers and old newspapers have mysteriously
    appeared on some courses as the soil used to cap the contaminants
    shifted and eroded.

    There’s a Jimmy Hoffa joke begging to erupt in there somewhere but I’ll let you write your own punch line.

    As a citizen of Jersey City I am concerned when big money is spent to
    privately serve a moneyed few even if the wealthy will be paying a
    $400,000.00 initiation fee to poison their bodies on a Superfund site
    posing as a golf course.
    When beautiful spaces are created on public land — even contaminated
    public land — everyone in the community should still have equal access
    to the experience even if it risks illness due to extended exposure to
    toxins.

    The poor have an equal right to lead poisoning playing golf
    instead of getting poisoned the old-fashioned way by eating paint chips
    from their windowsills!

    New Jersey should have helped clean up the site harboring Liberty
    National and then offered the land for extended public use.
    To close off such a large tract of the earth for private purposes only
    serves to increase the tension between the “haves and the “have nots” in the core of a tough, urban, city.

    The ordinary
    citizens of Jersey City are left with yearning eyes for a glassy
    glimpse of Lady Liberty beyond the land that, while once contaminated
    and uninhabitable, still belonged to them in spirit and to the soul of
    the city proper.

    On July 4, Jersey City will shrivel a little tenser and the dreams of
    its commoners will become even more compressed as Rudy Giuliani and
    Robert Kraft stroll onto the Liberty National green and aim a shot at
    Lady Liberty’s left armpit in a celebration of freedom and independence
    that only $400,000.00 can buy.

    23 Comments

    1. Changing polluted brownfields to golf courses is something that they’ve done in my area also, spending only an estimated $6 million.
      Instead of closing the golf course off to the local elites, the local government owns the course and offers a youth golf academy there for the city that has a poverty rate of 14.3% and a per capita income of $16,254.
      Writes Brownfields.com:

      Before the Lost Marsh golf course in Hammond, Indiana became home to a 9-hole youth course and a full adult course, it was nothing but a 50-year old mountain of slag.
      “In an area that is dominated by smokestacks, fuel tanks and industrial traffic,” wrote Lucio Guerrero, “the practically impenetrable mound is being turned into a youth golf course. The project, scheduled to be completed by the fall, is the largest public brownfield redevelopment in the state and one of the largest in the region.”

      I understand private property rights, but it always seems to be the wrong thing to take an extemely nice piece of land away from the public, especially in an area that doesn’t offer much for public recreation.
      In my county, most of the beautiful and valuable lakefront is dominated by heavy industry.
      There are plans underway to open formerly closed industrial areas to the public in an effort to create a beautiful region much like the Chicago lakefront.
      According to Purdue University Calumet:

      The project identifies walking paths, bike trails, new parks and bridges among proposals for making the shoreline more livable and environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

      I’m glad that officials are thinking for the greater good because I’m sure it would be tempting to sell the land to developers to make private enclaves for the wealthy who would pay premium prices in the millions for lake views including Chicago’s skyline.

    2. Chris!
      I love your detailed analysis of the RIGHT WAY to reclaim poisoned land for PUBLIC use.
      I am so happy to hear the Chicago area and Indiana are doing things the right way in the public interest.
      It is sad to see such a large strip of Jersey City real estate dedicated to the wealthy few who do not even live here. You know a lot of money changed hands to get that deal done.
      The developer is even claiming the course may not make any money due to high production costs and ongoing committed upkeep — and if that is in any way true, then the people of Jersey City certainly have lost a great piece of land for the price of a soulless few.

    3. That’s sad that they make something beautiful but close it off to the public, then say they might not be able to make any money.
      I’m sure they’ll ask for government funds to keep the thing afloat because it “helps the economy.”
      When that happens, the regular folks who can’t afford the $400K admission fee will end up paying for the golf course anyway.
      Chicago was lucky to have visionaries who foresaw the beauty of the lakefront and worked to keep it from becoming industrialized or built-up. Thank you Mr. Burnham!
      In many ways, having the open lakefront makes Chicago one of the world’s most attractive cities.
      If the Marquette Plan works in our area, we could see attractive waterfront land available for public use in Northwest Indiana. It would definitely beautify an area that is currently filled with the edifices of the steel mills and other heavy industry.
      It’s too bad the leaders in Jersey City didn’t envision the same thing for their city.

    4. I’m with you all the way, Chris. It’s too bad Chicago is stuck with the awful nickname “The Second City” when it places first in so many vital areas of good living.
      The East Coast has always been about making the most money possible and Jersey City in particular runs on outstretched hands seeking grease.
      I’m certain you are right when Liberty National doesn’t have enough players to pay its $400,000 initiation fee (only a year ago that fee was predicted to be a mere $350,000.00) they won’t open up the course to the public.
      The $400,000-ers would never allow that to happen so they will turn to the state and the city for bailouts — as you suggest — in the best interest of preserving the national profile of Liberty National. It all sickens me and the poor taxpayers will continue to double down on sucker bets made in the name of big money while the innocent citizenry continue to lose their shirts on gambits they were never meant to win!

    5. Chicago’s mayor gets flack for planting flowers and doing other beautification projections in the city, but it makes the place look great. I always hear that people from other areas always comment how nice and clean the city looks.
      I wonder if the owners of Liberty will ever allow the “unwashed masses” to ever visit the golf course in an effort to generate goodwill for the place? Maybe they should allow a local high school or two to have a prom in the country club or allow kids to play a round or two on special days.

    6. Ah! Beautification of the city is vital to how the city feels about itself in the current perspective. The greener, the more color, the more beautiful!
      I agree opening up Liberty National to the unwashed would be an excellent PR move, but I doubt it will happen. When people pay $400,000 to get in the door, they don’t want to see the less fortunate tune in their private domain for free.

    7. Yes, and you know they’d never make it an issue of money to let the lesser well-offs in — it would be framed as a matter of security for the paying people and the possibility of staking out the course facilities for terrorism attacks so close to Manhattan and the State of Liberty.

    8. Exactly!
      You really can’t move or breathe around here without it being a possible threat to national security.
      NYPD captains wear radiation detectors that sniff the air around them. If you walk by a detector and set off the alarms (the devices vibrate on the Captains’ chests) they will discreetly pull you aside to talk to you.
      They know the chances of you being a terrorist are slim but they have to inquire anyway. The #1 reason those detectors go off is because people are having radiation treatment and are still “hot” from the hospital and older men who have had radiation pellets inserted into their prostate gland to kill cancer. The Captains, in defense of the Homeland, mainly “interrogate” the ill and the cancer-ridden. What a society!

    9. The Captains hang out mainly in transit hubs during Rush Hour. With all the subway stops and PATH trains and other transportation hubs they are quite visual. I think there are 1,500 detectors active on people every day.
      You still cannot get within 100 feet of the front of the NYSE. It is tightly barricaded and off-limits. That building is protected 24/7 by SWAT team members in full combat gear armed with machine guns. You walk by them and they look you directly in the eye challenging you. It’s a pretty grim reminder of the lingering remains of what made that giant, gaping hole just up the street.
      There are also lots of other air sensors in NYC that constantly monitor the air for pathogens and other biohazards.

    10. Wow!
      It’s good that they are keeping an eye on things, but sometimes it’s scary seeing extra security.
      I suspect that there are lots of things going on everywhere that are probably lower key in nature in other areas so that people don’t panic. Sometimes I think it’s better to have plainclothes officers doing a lot of security details to keep the level of anxiety down among the public.
      During the millenium, someone told me that Chicago PD had vans that were filled with officers armed to the teeth ready for anything, but that they kept a low profile in case they weren’t needed.
      I went to an air show in the late 1990s and saw a Steath fighter that was parked on the tarmac at an airbase. There was a rope around the plane and a solider was guarding it holding a serious looking weapon. There were also the standard signs about no tresspassing hanging from the ropes that included the phrase “Use of Deadly Force is Authorized.”
      Anytime I see heavily armed security, it always makes me a little nervous that something bad might happen.

    11. Hi Chris —
      New York City is always on high alert because it is surrounded and vulnerable on all sides via water attack and serious threats are made against prime targets in the city every day. The military fighter jets flying overhead in figure eights is, thankfully, over for now. That was always a scary sight.
      I agree there is a fine line between being undercover and being “out there” with guns drawn. There was an incident in Midtown NYC where there was a small riot and the cops in uniform were overwhelmed and they sent out a distress call and it was like a movie where two biker dudes with ponytails pulled up on their choppers and pulled out their badges from under their shirts; a telephone repairman ran over with his gun drawn and his badge showing and a homeless guy on the street popped up from the subway stop and swapped out his stocking cap for an NYPD cop baseball hat and his badge showing from his coat pocket. They’re everywhere and nowhere and that is one fine thing.

    12. I’ve even noticed a lot more unmarked cars in my suburban area that aren’t the usual police-type sedans. There was a bank robbery last year and I saw a Pontiac with visor lights flying down the road along with the regular police cars. It might have been a personal vehicle, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the car was a seized vehicle that was put into service.
      It’s always amazing to see undercover cops spring into action. When I worked at the grocery store, they always employed police cadets from Indiana University. Besides the usual buff guys who looked like cops, they also employed people who didn’t have the traditional cop look.
      Usually, they were great-looking, blonde-haired, blue-eye women who looked like sorority sisters. Nobody ever seemed to mind if they were hanging around.
      They did a great job catching guys were were up to no good because no one would ever suspect them being on the security staff.

    13. I like how we’re outing the cover of the undercover people, Chris!
      😀
      Seriously, it’s so interesting to study covert work and how to behave and dress and fit in without being noticed.
      The “homeless” undercover cops in NYC always have a uniformed partner nearby so the undercover cop can listen to the radio calls on the uniformed guy’s hip radio and then spring into action if there’s a general distress call sent out. Also, the uniformed cop watches over the undercover cop in case someone tries to harass him or steal his stuff – you won’t want the undercover cop blowing his cover for those stupid annoyances.

    14. From watching the Discovery Channel and other types of programming, I’ve learned that the best spies and undercover people are those who don’t stand out.
      You want to have someone who looks like everyone else in the scenery.
      In urban areas, the ubiquitous homeless man or woman wouldn’t stand out, but could watch for hours and hours. The same thing for construction workers or utility repair people.
      Even the traffic management authority monitors have radios to call in cars that run red lights or violate traffic laws. They are usually in the same position for hours and could also keep an eye out without really standing out.
      Speaking about new tactics:
      I saw something cool not too long ago.
      There was a medical emergency at the Daley Center and two firefighters/EMTs showed up on Segway scooters that had flashing lights and equipment bags. They moved a lot faster than I thought they could and were able to drive right into the building (and probably onto the elevator).
      I know that the PD are using Segways at the airports now.
      It’s a cool way to use new technology.

    15. I saw a guy zoom pass on a Segway and he would stop regularly to check meters. I wouldn’t mind one, they are handy.
      As for covert operators. I worked with a friend who was in the Royal Airforce in their photo surveillance unit and he hung out with SAS (Special Air Service) Regiment guys, they all had lank hair and beer bellies so as to fit in when working undercover. To look at them you would never think they were some of the most elite special forces soldiers on the planet.
      I don’t play golf but even if I did and had $400k I don’t think I’d spend it to join some club. There are better ways to blow $400k.

    16. Hi Mik!
      Nice to hear from you.
      The Segway is a great idea — now if they could only deal with the goofiness of the product…
      😀
      Your story about the SAS undercover Ops reminds me when was I really young and visiting Fort Bragg. We were in the cafeteria and surrounded by clean-cut uniformed soldiers. Then there – over in the corner was a table with a bunch of bearded guys wearing bandanas, sunglasses and flannel shirts. I asked my uncle, who was in the military, who those scary guys were and what were they doing on base. My uncle whispered and said, “That’s the Delta Force” –
      http://www.specialoperations.com/Army/Delta_Force/unit_profile.htm
      — and I stood there slack-jawed in awe holding my cafeteria tray until my cousin prodded me on my shoving her tray into my back.
      I agree $400k is ridiculous as an initiation fee and only the wealthy loser-no-names will pay that price. You know Giuliani and Kraft aren’t paying that fee or any fee ever. Liberty National needs stars and stars don’t pay.
      😀

    17. David:
      Your scathing critisism of Liberty National prompted me to write this. I, too, am a resident of Jersey City and while I would MUCH prefer to have a beautiful public park in the Caven Point area, I view such expectation as unrealistic.
      Total remediation (removal of all the toxins from the Caven Point site) would cost many times more than the $150 million spent by the Firemans to cap the site (and build the course. Maybe half a billion dollars more…
      Who would pay for this total cleanup? The broke and corrupt State of New Jersey? The almost-broke and corrupt Jersey City? I doubt it. State of New Jersey could not even afford to buy the Caven Point site, cover the toxins, and build a public park over them. They can’t even afford to clean up and improve the neighboring Liberty State Park.
      I think that the companies which contaminated the land should pay. PPG, Standard Oil, etc, etc. But litigating such matters is expensive and the outcome uncertain.
      It is indeed sad that the original polluters can get away with their crime against the environment in which we live.
      It is sad that our governments have no power to ensure the right of their constituents to clean and healthy recreation areas.
      But I would not blame Liberty National, despite the disgusting thought that only 250 private members and their guests will be able to use these 160 acres of waterfront property.
      Your blog entry should have blasted the polluting corporate perpetrators, the State of New Jersey and (maybe)the City of Jersey City, not Liberty National.