In the gardens of Leonard Gordon Park, a dispute between park groups has been growing for years


When the Leonard Gordon Park Conservancy planted gardens in the Jersey City Heights park final month, it was not speculated to be controversial.

A bunch of volunteers, led by Conservancy president and Ward D Council candidate Patrick Ambrossi, put in 4 beds of Black-Eyed Susans, Purple Coneflower, and different species subsequent to the park’s gazebo. “It was a good day,” Ambrossi mentioned in a textual content.

But not everybody agreed.

In an offended e-mail with the mayor cc’ed, Clifford Waldman, president of the Friends of Leonard Gordon Park, accused the Conservancy of utilizing the Friends’ gear with out permission and putting in gardens with out the Friends’ approval. The planting, he wrote, was a “military attack so that you can take over.”

The incident highlights a battle that has been simmering for years, dividing two groups that, on their floor, seem almost similar.

Both the Friends and the Conservancy say they care for and arrange programming round Leonard Gordon park, a distinctive however run-down 5.7 acres in the Jersey City Heights. Much of the park is in want of repairs: its statues of bison and bears are cracked, the gazebo is moldering, and the park’s steep slopes trigger stormwater run-off into ponds and neighboring houses.

But the plans for the parks’ restore and restoration have been marred by disagreements between the two groups.

“Most of our efforts have been stymied by this intentionally loud conflict,” Waldman wrote in an e-mail. “I could give you a long list of attempts to help the park that have been thwarted because of this nonsense.”

Initially, there was just one Leonard Gordon group: the Friends, which counted Waldman as president and Ambrossi as vice chairman. Waldman spearheaded the renovation of Van Vorst Park in 1999 and based the Jersey City Parks Coalition in 2004, although he’s now not a member.

But in 2015, Ambrossi break up off to kind the Conservancy.

Patrick Ambrossi

Patrick Ambrossi, president of the Leonard Gordon Park Conservancy.

In Waldman’s model of occasions, the schism finally stemmed from a decades-old “profound historical curse,” he wrote in a prolonged e-mail, which “undermined the creation of ANY architectural or landscaping beauty in our community parks.” When Jersey City devised grasp plans for its parks, Waldman says residents have been “disenfranchised” and their suggestions was rejected. After he protested, he mentioned, the Parks Coalition moved to “ruin my reputation (with slander & libel),” which led to the breakaway group.

But Ambrossi sees issues otherwise.

With Waldman as president, “it was his way or the highway with things,” Ambrossi mentioned. “After a while it was little too much to handle.”

The conservancy, he mentioned, is concentrated on implementing the park’s 2019 Master Plan, in addition to organizing occasions “from Halloween bashes to Easter egg hunts to Christmas tree lightings to live music,” he mentioned.

Only Ambrossi’s group is at present half of the Jersey City Parks Coalition. But Paula Mahayosnand, the Coalition’s president, mentioned it supported each park groups.

“As long as you’re supporting the community and protecting open space, that’s what we encourage and embrace,” she mentioned. “We really don’t get involved with past conflict.”

Many of the present tensions between the groups appear to stem from the neighborhood enter course of main as much as the metropolis’s 2019 creation of the Leonard Gordon Park grasp plan. The metropolis is at present implementing Phase 1 of the plan, wherein it’ll enhance lighting and walkways and set up police containers. Later, the metropolis plans to refurbish the sculptures and gazebo, add a neighborhood heart, and substitute the playground and canine run.

Waldman believes that whole course of of devising the plan constituted “fraud” and “disenfranchisement” wherein Ambrossi’s group was complicit. Residents have been provided “zero beauty or historic sensitivity,” he wrote in a 2019 e-newsletter.

“We need the Conservancy to revisit the Park input process and to proudly co-lead it with us,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Then funds will flow, and we could have a great world-class, historically sensitive hybrid mountain community park!”

But Ambrossi mentioned that was unlikely.

“We didn’t get everything that I personally would have thought we would have gotten,” Ambrossi mentioned. “But at the end of the day, you say, ‘Hey, the community voted for this, they picked this, they picked that, and it is what it is.’”

As for reunification, he mentioned, “I don’t see it happening.”



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