Friday, March 7, 2014

Protect the Palisades

I only became aware this week that New Jersey is celebrating its 350th anniversary. That's pretty good, considering the United States is only 238 years old. But that doesn't seem like much if you consider that the now endangered Palisades cliffs over the Hudson River are 200 million years old.

An update from Michele Byers at alerted me to the Protect the Palisades website.

The issue is that LG Electronics wants to build a 143-foot office tower that would rise high above the tree line, more than four times the height of existing buildings next to Palisades Interstate Park.

What continues to amaze people about the Palisades is that the view from the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge has remained unchanged over centuries. Pretty amazing for this most densely populated state in the nation that gets plenty of abuse for it.

It's certainly not the first threat to the Palisades. In the early 1900s, it was threatened by rock quarrying. Citizens fought then for preservation and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission was created. Before we had land conservancy groups very visible, prominent families of the day bought lands along the cliffs and donated them for conservation. Zoning for towns north of the GW Bridge wrote height restrictions limiting building to 35 feet so that the tree line of Palisades Interstate Park was maintained.

The National Park Service supports the low-rise alternative continuing and reminds us that the Palisades have the rare distinction of being both a "National Natural Landmark" and a "National Historic Landmark."

But in 2012, Englewood Cliffs granted a variance allowing the LG office tower, and opening up a larger area for more high-rise development. (The NJ Federation of Women's Clubs sued to stop the project, along with Scenic Hudson and the NY-NJ Trail Conference and it is a case that's still before the courts.)

Hopefully, the NPS and concerned citizens can protect our vista in the same way that the Grand Canyon, Yellowstons and Yosemite National Park are protected.

In a Star-Ledger editorial last summer:
LG spokesman John Taylor said the company has not ruled out a redesign, although it would be costly. Opponents of the current design, such as Michele Byers of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said if the company lowers the building, they’ll get behind the project to expedite it and minimize costs. Taking the building down to a lower height would ensure the preservation of the Palisades and earn priceless goodwill for the company.

PROTECT THE PALISADES asks you to join in at 1pm on Saturday, March 8th around New Jersey and in NYC as people stand up and show LG how strong the opposition to their plan to build a tower on the Hudson River Palisades really is! Spread the word and sign up new supporters.

You can also follow Protect the Palisades on Facebook for updates.

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