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Opposition to US Grand Prix



Formula One’s bid to return to the United States has already run into fierce opposition from protesters at one possible venue.

Details have emerged of plans to host a race at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, which would provide the New York skyline backdrop F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone recently suggested was in his thoughts.

The idea comes from Destination Jersey City, an organisation funded by the city’s Economic Development Corporation in a bid to drum up tourism for the area.

Promotional material for the event, which would be run for five years from 2012, even includes a 3.6-mile circuit layout around the 600-acre park.

Part of the wording reads: “With the incredible backdrop of the New York skyline, selecting Jersey City for the 2012 grand prix circuit will not only boost ticket sales as the grand prix returns to the United States, but will provide striking television footage.”

Yet as with any project in such an environmental area, it has its detractors, notably the president of the Friends of Liberty State Park, Sam Pesin.

In a letter to Jersey City mayor Jerramiah T Healy, Pesin wrote:

“People come to LSP to seek a haven, oasis, refuge and sanctuary and such a grand prix racing event that needs all park roads is contrary to the spirit and essence of an urban open space park.”

After speaking with Pesin, Healy issued a statement that read: “This (the plan) was a response to an overture made by Formula One, and Jersey City is one of several cities they are pursuing.

“There have been a few, preliminary conversations and this is very much in the exploratory phase.

“However, this may not be something that is in the best interest of Jersey City or Liberty State Park.”

One of Jersey City’s councilmen, Steven Fulop, has also slated the idea as he said: “If you’re going to do anything for the park, the priorities should be recreation for residents.

“We could definitely use more ball fields. We don’t need a racetrack.”

Melbourne’s Albert Park has become a favourite with the drivers, despite local activists voicing their concerns each year the race heads to Australia, and even though other recreational activities have improved in recent times.

Although Destination Jersey City are trumpeting the idea, for F1 to forge ahead they would need approval from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection as it is the state, and not Jersey City, who own the park.

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