With the announcement that he will not support a redesignation of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area as a national park, Rep. Josh Gottheimer has all but scuttled the proposal. At least for now.
“As I said from moment one, I believe that this matter required significant local input because it directly impacts many North Jersey townships, boroughs, and residents. I have immense trust in the mayors and local governments of the Fifth District and their ability to represent the views of our shared constituents,” said in a statement in July.
“Following constructive discussions with local mayors and officials, and solicitation of local input over the last months, at this stage, it does not seem that the proposal to redesignate the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area as a National Park has the necessary local support to move forward. As such, I will not be supporting the redesignation,” he said.
The proposal to create a national park initially gained support from a number of local and county officials. The Warren County Board of Commissioners voted to endorse the concept in February, but abruptly changed direction in April, withdrawing that support. They said they needed more information before moving forward.
The Board of Commissioners in Sussex County, home of the northern portion the Delaware National Recreation Area, has been opposed from the start.
Because the redesignation would require consent of Congress, Gottheimer’s decision to withhold support dooms the idea.
However, the 5th Congressional District, currently represented by Gottheimer, has been reshaped in response to the 2020 census, and will no longer include Warren County and the southern portion of Sussex County. Gottheimer is seeking reelection in the redrawn 5th, so win or lose, he will no longer represent those areas.
Warren County will join the 7th Congressional District. Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski currently represents the 7th, and is seeking reelection in the redrawn district. Malinowski’s office said he hasn’t taken a position on the redesignation as it is currently outside of his district.
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.
Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.
Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.
Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.