San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has refused an offer by the Navy to station the battleship U.S.S. Iowa
there, to serve as a tourist attraction. USA Today reports
Newark should bid for it.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 to spurn the ship. Supervisors who oppose the offer say they don't want a ship from a military in which openly gay men and women cannot serve. They also say they don't want it because they oppose the Iraq war, which city voters condemned in a 2004 ballot question.
"I don't think the climate has improved for tying a 10-story warship, or gun, to the waterfront," Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval says. * * *
The Iowa is among four "Iowa class" battleships, the biggest the Navy ever sailed. The others have found homes: the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor, the USS Wisconsin at Norfolk, Va., and the USS New Jersey at Camden, N.J. The Navy has said it will officially invite bids for a permanent dock and museum site for the Iowa this spring.
We need more tourist attractions
, and Newark has lots of water. We are a seaport, on a river. The Passaic may not look like much, but it is deep, as an automobile tragedy demonstrated in October 2004, when three women drowned when their SUV ran off Raymond Boulevard and sank in 35 feet of water.
The Navy will eventually come around as regards its antihomosexual policies. After all, blacks were discriminated against and segregated in the military until 1948, even tho the very first person killed by the British at the formation of this country was Crispus Attucks, a black man. We sometimes take a while to do the right thing, but we do eventually do it.
After years of inactivity on riverfront redevelopment, work has apparently begun on some kind of project east of Penn Plaza. Here are some indicative fotos taken late in the day. This first view shows the boom placed alongside the frontage being redeveloped, to prevent anything that falls into the river from the worksite and might float away from contaminating the river downstream.
Here is a view from the Newark approach to the Jackson Street bridge. It shows the worksite at a very preliminary stage. I'm not sure what is to be built, but there are already an office trailer, a crane, and piles of heavy steel beams onsite. Note the steel retaining wall at the river's edge.
Here's a better view of the retaining wall, from ground level.
That wall wasn't there last year.
Now, I don't know if the U.S.S. Iowa
would fit comfortably with whatever is being built on the Passaic, and it might not fit thru the bridges that cross the Passaic between Downtown and Newark Bay. But it would certainly fit into Port Newark or alongside a dock we could easily build at Newark Bay.
I haven't yet made my way to Newark Bay or Port Newark to see what kind of space is already available. I don't even know if there is public access to the Port or if extravagant worries about "security" bar casual visitors who are just out to see the facilities and the view in all directions. Should I get there, you'll see pictures here.
In the meantime, if you think, as I do, that it would be great for Newark to have a battleship to help draw some of those millions of tourists that visit Manhattan out to our area, suggest that to Mayor James, County Executive DiVincenzo, Governor Corzine, New Jersey tourism, your councilmember, the Navy, and anyone else you think appropriate. Tell them you saw the idea here.
Who knows? Maybe a lot of Iowans on vacation would actually venture into Newark to see a ship named for their state and in so doing be startled by how crazy their preconceptions of Newark are.
San Francisco is known as "The City by the Bay". Like San Francisco, Newark has a bay of the same name. I suspect the views across to Manhattan are spectacular. But somehow nothing has been done to build housing there. Maybe the U.S.S. Iowa
could form the core of an entire new community of pleasure boating, housing, seafood restaurants, and shops. San Francisco has Fisherman's Wharf. Newark could have Iowa Wharf.