New Jersey City mayor clashes with conservationists over pandemic symbol of hope
NORTH HALEDON, NJ – A mountaintop star erected as a symbol of hope during the pandemic is being removed in a New Jersey town.
CBS2’s Meg Baker says more about the controversy.
North Haledon Mayor Randy George refuses to take down a 25ft star that sits atop the High Mountain Park Reserve.
“The star doesn’t go down because she’s helped so many people during the pandemic,” George said.
It lights up at night so everyone can see it.
“Two years ago I asked permission to put the star, and the Nature Conservancy said yes, Green Acres of New Jersey said yes, and Wayne Township said yes. Now, because of I think two complaints, they want it down,” George said.
A partial owner of the reserve, the Nature Conservancy, a non-profit organization that helps preserve land and other resources, said it never gave permission and ordered North Haledon to take it down .
“It’s a harmless star. It’s resting on a rock. There’s an old fire road that we go down once or twice a week because it’s powered by solar power and backup battery generators, so there’s really not a lot of traffic up there,” George said. .
The Nature Conservancy would not go on camera, but said it had “become aware of individuals climbing the star and encouraging others to visit the reserve at night to see it lit up. This presents a real danger, present and important for public safety, and we don’t want people to get hurt. The star also negatively affects the habitat.
In 2000, the borough donated 89 acres to the nonprofit for preservation.
“And everybody was very happy because a development was stopped,” George said.
The star sits on this earth. Hundreds of residents have signed a petition to keep it.
“I agree with you. I totally agree,” one person said.
“I love it. Yes, please keep it. It gives you a chill when you look up – ‘Oh there’s that star,'” resident Helen Simi said, adding when he was asked if the star was a symbol of hope, “It’s just beautiful. I love it”
George said that if the Nature Conservancy did not back down, he wanted the land the borough gave him back.