JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The snowy owl was first noticed simply past the 18th gap of some of the costly golf programs ever constructed.

The bird was resting on a sandy seashore full of seashells and driftwood on the fringe of Liberty State Park. Waves lapped the New Jersey shoreline of the Hudson River as birders with binoculars stood in awe two years in the past.

Close by, behind a tall black fence, had been the willow-lined fairways of Liberty National, an unique personal golf course the place luminaries like Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka have performed, and the place the unique initiation price for members was about half 1,000,000 {dollars}.

The distinction between the lavish membership and the adjoining park, with its hodgepodge of rough-hewed public facilities — each with sweeping views of Decrease Manhattan bejeweled by the Statue of Liberty — has been stark because the course opened practically 14 years in the past.

However the two worlds are actually clashing as by no means earlier than in a showdown over the Jersey Metropolis golf course’s push to increase into practically 22 acres of public parkland.

The outcropping of land, referred to as Caven Level, is a migratory chicken habitat the place noticed sandpipers and American oystercatchers nest close to elevated walkways that permit guests to wander, from March to October, by means of tall reeds and onto the sandy seashore. The opposite half of the yr the wildlife is taken into account too fragile to allow entry.

However it’s there that Liberty Nationwide officers say they hope to construct three new holes, bringing extra of the 18-hole course nearer to the water’s telegenic edge and serving to it draw high-profile PGA Tour occasions that supporters say spin off financial advantages for the state.

“If we’re not capable of accommodate what these tournaments want, then they may merely go elsewhere that may,” stated Chris Donnelly, a spokesman for Liberty Nationwide.

A key vote within the State Senate associated to that effort might come as early as Thursday, marking the latest battle in a long-running historical past of park advocates fending off private developers hoping to construct within the state park.

“To me, it’s actually simply an obscenity,” stated Rick Cordner, an avid birder and the treasurer of Buddies of Liberty State Park, a bunch against the golf course growth. “It breaks my coronary heart to suppose there might be a bulldozer on the market plowing it beneath for a golf course.”

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The course opened on the Fourth of July in 2006, and takes in about 170 acres of privately owned land, a lot of it a former poisonous wasteland that price greater than $250 million to reclaim. It was thought on the time to be the most expensive golf course ever constructed.

With founding members that embrace President Trump’s private lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Robert Ok. Kraft, the proprietor of the New England Patriots, Liberty Nationwide is not any stranger to the levers of energy in Trenton and past.

One in all its homeowners, Paul B. Fireman, the founding father of Reebok who offered his firm to Adidas for $3.8 billion, and his household are beneficiant marketing campaign donors, contributing about $420,000 to Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey between 2009 and final yr, state information present.

Liberty Nationwide’s lobbyist, Eric Shuffler, has labored for 2 New Jersey governors and was appointed to Gov. Philip D. Murphy’s transition group after his 2017 election.

Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, declined by means of a spokesman, Mahen Gunaratna, to debate the proposed growth.

“We usually don’t touch upon pending payments,” Mr. Gunaratna stated. “However the governor believes that Liberty State Park is a New Jersey treasure that belongs to each household. He’s a robust supporter of defending our public lands for the advantage of everybody.”

The land Liberty Nationwide needs to lease for an as-yet undetermined sum was bought with state and federal funds, together with cash meant to preserve land and water. The state would have oversight over any land conversion and the inside secretary would additionally have to log off on the plan, in accordance with the state’s Division of Environmental Safety.

Activists have stated the proposed land use might be precedent setting and have vowed to problem it, if want be, in court docket.

“For those who can privatize land bought with Land and Water Conservation {dollars}, you’re jeopardizing most of our nationwide parks,” stated Greg Remaud, the director of the NY/NJ Baykeeper, a nonprofit conservation group. “It’s one in every of our bedrock precedents for land conservation.”

Mr. Donnelly stated the brand new holes could be used to unlock different land on the course for staging and hospitality actions which might be very important to attracting PGA Tour occasions just like the Presidents Cup and the Northern Belief.

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“Every of those PGA occasions, every one, contributes tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars} into the Hudson County and New Jersey financial system,” Mr. Shuffler testified final month at a Senate funds listening to.

A spokeswoman for the state’s Financial Growth Authority stated the company had no estimate of the financial worth to the state from the 4 PGA tournaments held at Liberty Nationwide since 2009.

A spokesman for the PGA Tour, Joel Schuchmann, confirmed that the dimensions of Liberty Nationwide had change into a consideration, significantly for the Northern Belief, which is the primary occasion in its FedEx Cup playoffs every year.

“It’s true that because the PGA Tour, and the FedEx Cup playoffs particularly, proceed to develop in stature and curiosity amongst our followers, media and companions, so does the necessity to make sure the correct footprint is in place,” Mr. Schuchmann stated in a press release.

The membership’s objective is to maneuver three present golf holes to Caven Level, releasing up house for occasion staging and for the creation of an introductory golf program for space youngsters, the First Tee.

In alternate for the precise to construct, Liberty Nationwide has stated it will supply unspecified funds for park enhancements, create entry at sure occasions to the Caven Level beachfront and supply a jitney to move individuals throughout Liberty State Park.

Golf course officers additionally say that contaminated land at Caven Level could be remediated, however a state spokesman stated the plot was cleaned and deemed protected in 2004 for its present use. “Extra cleanup just isn’t required,” Larry Hajna, a D.E.P. spokesman, stated in an e mail.

The membership has gotten backing for the undertaking from the state N.A.A.C.P., partly primarily based on the promise of programming just like the First Tee.

“Preserving the park is necessary, however there may be rather more at stake for the communities we signify,” the group’s president, Richard T. Smith, wrote in a letter in assist of Liberty Nationwide’s efforts.

However Daoud David Williams, a lifelong resident of Jersey Metropolis and a member of the native N.A.A.C.P., stated black leaders in Jersey Metropolis weren’t consulted.

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“Whoever obtained to him,” Mr. Williams stated of Mr. Smith, “I believe he’s making an enormous mistake.” Mr. Smith couldn’t be reached for remark.

“I believe there’s ulterior motives for providing some quote-unquote ‘inner-city youngsters’ some classes in golf,” stated Mr. Williams, 76.

This isn’t the primary time the membership has tried to increase into Caven Level. It tried to obtain the land in the course of the course’s preliminary building and once more in the course of the waning days of the administration of Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.

The state Division of Environmental Safety quietly shelved the proposal as soon as Mr. Murphy took workplace, however the concept by no means fully died.

This newest effort is tied to laws, the Liberty State Park Safety Act, that goals to forestall all however small personal improvement inside the sprawling park, which has repeatedly been eyed for a wide range of for-profit ventures, together with a marina, amusement parks and a racetrack.

The Buddies of Liberty State Park, led by Sam Pesin, whose father was among those responsible for the creation of the park, have spent a long time going through off in opposition to personal builders and had hoped the Safety Act would lastly safe the land as a “free and inexperienced individuals’s park.”

Liberty Nationwide is lobbying to amend the laws to permit the state to solicit bids to develop Caven Level.

“It is a billionaire privatization assault for the 1 p.c,” Mr. Pesin, 70, stated.

The highly effective chairman of the funds committee, Senator Paul A. Sarlo, a Democrat, strongly urged he supported the proposed growth in the course of the listening to. “There’s some huge cash that we’re leaving on the desk right here fairly frankly,” he stated.

Greater than 50 organizations have signed a letter in opposition and are planning a protest rally within the park on Saturday.

Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey Metropolis and the invoice’s sponsor within the Meeting, Raj Mukherji, are unequivocal of their opposition to the golf course growth.

Mr. Fulop stated he’s grateful for the PGA’s and Mr. Fireman’s intensive philanthropy in Jersey Metropolis.

“However there are issues, from my viewpoint, which might be untouchable and the place we’re by no means keen to compromise,” Mr. Fulop stated. “That is one in every of them.”


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