Thursday, September 29, 2022

Gotheimer nixes National Park status for Delaware Water Gap

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 Gottheimer is seeking reelection in the redrawn 5th, so win or lose, he will no longer represent those areas.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.

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