The Trailblazer

Dinosaurs May Walk Among Us Once Again- Or Not

Photo From NorthJersey.com photographer Marko Georgiev

Photo From NorthJersey.com photographer Marko Georgiev

Matthew Wikfors

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It has been millions of years since dinosaurs have roamed the Earth, but we may be able to see them once again close to home. Adam Strobell, director of Bergen County’s Division of Open Space, developed a plan to build a four hundred car parking lot and install an animatronic dinosaur exhibit on a 75 acre tract of untouched land.

 

Strobel said that the exhibit will be something “very unique and different” combining the natural vegetation with the unnatural mechanical dinosaurs.

 

The dinosaurs will be moved from the Field Station: Dinosaurs exhibit, which currently operates in Overpeck County Park.  The Leonia-based exhibit is not owned or run by the state but pay $75,000 in rent a year to use the 20-acre space. Although this business does not provide much of a tax relief to taxpayers, county officials have allowed the business to operate in Overpeck County Park because the space there is not being used otherwise.

 

Field Station: Dinosaurs describes its attraction as “a wild scientific expedition just minutes from New York City.”   Families visit the exhibit to see over thirty animatronic dinosaurs up close and personal. The exhibit has been performing well, attracting families with its reasonable $10 to $15 day passes.

 

But there are numerous problems surrounding the new proposal.  One problem is that the proposal claims that the exhibit would blend the dinosaurs with the natural surroundings of the woods, including plants and wildlife.  But, as journalist Mike Kelly phrases it, “[supporters] just want fake dinosaurs to pop up amid the real trees and wetlands.”

 

The most important, and main, problem is environmental concerns Previously, the area of land had not been open to the public and was used as a garbage dump for the surrounding city like Leonia.  Garbage was dumped without man made interference and the area flourished with bushes, trees, and other vegetation popping up to create a natural habitat for the wildlife. This area is one of the last untouched areas in the county, and environmentalists are opposed to the proposal.  They believe that the exhibit could disrupt the wildlife in the area and cause health problems to the public.

 

Since the proposed area of land has been untouched, chemicals from waste and trash still remain at the site.  Before anything can be built there, the debris and everything else must be removed from the land first.

 

“It’s a former garbage dump. They should be concerned about getting that area cleaned up,” said Bill Sheehan, director of environmental group Hackensack Riverkeeper.

 

With both practical and environmental concerns in mind, the seventy people in attendance at the meeting were mostly opposed to the idea with concerns about how tax dollars are being spent and how worth it the project is to he county.  Overall, the relocation of the exhibit and the clean-up efforts for the site will cost $6.8 million, with partial funding coming from state grants.

 

Until August 7th, the public can send written comments about the proposal change of use to Strobel and Green Acres, the organization that will provide the grants to the project.  The country will vote on whether to approve the proposal for the bid within the next two months. Whether the current proposal will be approved or not remains to be seen. The public might not be willing to put up with the exhibit.

 

As Teaneck resident George Reskakis puts it, “To me, for my tax dollars, I don’t want to see Bergen County spending my money building this.”

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