The New Jersey Palisades designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a National Treasure offers natural beauty from the George Washington to the Tappan Zee Bridge. Here's a Manhattan view of the famous cliffs from Ft. Tryon Park and the Cloisters.
After a century of developers agreeing to protect the New Jersey Palisades from Manhattan’s northern green belt to all points north and keep the view "forever wild," an agreement that Teddy Roosevelt took part in before he even became President and John D. Rockefeller donated 700 New Jersey acres to, things are about to change.
LG, the Korean electronics corporation has been ignoring massive public protest and is going forward with plans to destroy the famous view with a skyscraper right behind the protected parkland. How one of their representatives put it at the groundbreaking “We’re just not concerned about the appeal,” LG spokesperson John Taylor told the Wall Street Journal. “Our plan is to move the project forward, appeal or not.”
Presently LG is trying to play the victim with claims like "We can't change our plans now." The facts are that they picked this real estate with full knowledge of the long standing tradition of not building above the tree line, and then purchased whatever local politicians were necessary to change the zoning laws. With Joseph Parisi Jr., the mayor of Englewood Cliff in their pocket the company changed the local zoning laws from a thirty-five foot maximum height so as to build a one hundred forty-seven foot monstrosity high above the tree line and open the door to even more high-rise development along the unspoiled Palisades north of the George Washington Bridge. The fact is that outside of a propaganda page that would do Karl Rove proud, the company has ignored any and all input from anyone who is not on their payroll. Now they claim it is just wealthy, uninformed New Yorkers taking issue with the construction.
The facts are that Governor Andrew Cuomo, four former New Jersey governors along with an alliance of neighboring mayors stand firmly against the LG project. The director of the National Park Service, which administers the Palisades as a National Natural Landmark and just about every other national environmental agency is trying to stop LG. NY State AG Eric Schneiderman filed legal papers asking a New Jersey appeals court to halt LG Electronic's plan. Four Bronx lawmakers have been organizing an LG boycott and almost every New York politician has protested but Senator Charles E. Schumer said it best in his letter to LG.
Dear Vice Chairman Koo:Recently Thomas P. DiNapoli, the Comptroller for New York State who controls $10 million worth of LG stock has tried to make the company aware of a "potential for reputational risk." But just one look this photo of Piazza San Marco shows this company has no respect for beauty and no interest in protecting their own a reputation.
I write to urge LG to modify its plan for a new North American headquarters in Englewood Cliff by reducing the height of the tallest of the buildings so it does not show above the tree line of the Hudson River Palisades.
As you undoubtedly know, the plan includes a 143-foot high building that would severely mar the largely unbroken natural sweep of the Palisades north of the George Washington Bridge. As planned, a large part of that building would be clearly visible above the tree line and ridgeline in an area that, thanks to more than 100 years of conservation efforts, has been maintained in its natural state largely unmarked by man-made structures. The LG building would do irreparable damage to this iconic landscape, which stretches north along the Hudson River for 16 miles and has been designated by the United States government as both a National Natural Landmark and a National Historic Site. I fear that the building would also set a precedent by departing from the zoning that has kept development low-rise for the past 80 years.
It is not necessary that this happen. LG has ample space on its 27 acre site to build a headquarters of equal square footage employing an equal number of people that does not rise above the treeline. Redesigning the building so that it does not rise above the tree line, your company will generate a great deal of good will that I believe would redound very much to its benefit.
With respect, I ask you to modify the design of your new North American headquarters and thereby ensure that the Palisades remain unmarred.
Despite the voices of most politicians, business leaders and the people on both sides of the river, despite the fact that LG already has more than enough land to build a low-rise office building with the same office space and number of jobs as the planned skyscraper, it seems they would prefer to destroy the natural beauty of the Palisades and replace the beautiful view with a monument to their own arrogance.
The photo below, from Protect The Palisades where you can sign a petition, offers the legacy that LG and the new zoning law promises.
The New York Times covered this threat to the scenic beauty with national landmark status. The Daily News offers a list of protesters. This week it became even more apparent the company has commissioned Englewood Cliffs Mayor Joseph Parisi Jr. to pretend that they are negotiating with local residents. According to the Protect the Palisades Facebook Page and local leadership there has never been any negotiations.
The smallest glimmer of hope lies in a New Jersey State Senate bill and an identical bill awaiting a committee hearing in the Assembly. That bill, that met with immediate opposition from the company and the mayor of Englewood Cliff would be retroactive to include the LG project and prohibit any development over 35 feet within 2,000 feet of the Palisades cliffs but even if it passes, getting passed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is unlikely.
Sounds like another hopeless cause where almost universal disapproval is being ignored but you can still like that Facebook page and follow #StopLGTower at Twitter. And there is always your wallet, the next time you are making an electronics purchase, remember LG only stands for "Life's Good" when you are someone who really enjoys destroying natural beauty.