It’s hard to imagine that anyone could look at a former toxic dump in New Jersey and envision a championship golf course in its place. But that’s just what happened approximately 10 years ago when Tom Kite and famed golf course designer Bob Cupp laid their eyes on approximately 150 acres in Jersey City, overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan skyline.
Applied Development Company, in partnership with Willowbend Development Company, is creating a one-of-a-kind golf course on the western shore of the New York Bay. This $130 million 18-hole championship caliber golf course, designed by Kite and Cupp, will have a 12-minute launch service to and from Manhattan, with an onboard concierge.
Liberty National Golf Course will have extensive golf practice facilities including double-ended grass tee practice range, putting and chipping greens, and an indoor/outdoor teaching studio. The clubhouse will offer a grille/lounge, banquet facilities, private meeting rooms, men’s and women’s locker room facilities, a golf shop and a spa.
All this on a site that once was home to John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Co., and later the location of an ammunition and fuel depot during World Wars I and II, and finally a debris-sifting site after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Russell M. Bayliss, director of membership selection committee of Liberty National Golf Course, said, “It’s going to be one of the best golf courses you’ll ever play on. We’ve had the president of PGA America here a lot, and we’ve worked closely with him just to get feedback on what it will take to hold a tournament here … the design elements they’d like to see in a golf course, and so on.”
Armored Inc., of Jersey City, NJ, is the primary contractor for the 150-acre, 7,500-yd. course.
“The entire project has been going on for 10 years,” began George Coyne Jr., president of Armored. “Three years of the project involved just taking out the structures that were here. Then the past seven years have involved both soil remediation and constructing the course. It’s quite a project,” which, he added, is scheduled for completion July 4, 2006.
Because of the site’s history, contaminants, such as chromium, were pervasive in the soil, according to Coyne Jr.
“We imported about a million yards of soil and 800,000 tons of sand to create the cap for the contaminated soil and for the contours for the golf course,” he said. “First, we had to take the structures down, the oil storage tanks, etc., and do the excavation. We took the contaminated soil and sent it to Carteret and BioCycle who treated it by spraying the soil with a biological agent that eats hydrocarbons and excretes nitrogen. As a result, we got nitrogen-enriched soil that we put back into the golf course; we used approximately a half-million yards of this soil. Then we placed it above the liner and shaped and contoured it; some of these fills are 17 feet.”
The final grade on the course will be done by another company — the golf course architects. “They sculpt the last of it to a tenth of an inch,” said Coyne Jr.
Currently, most of the remediation work is completed, except the location where the clubhouse and marina will be, the closest point on the site to the Statue of Liberty.
Armored also is doing all the infrastructure work, such as sewer and water, which includes three irrigation ponds built by Armored. “These [ponds] will be the source for the entire golf course,” said Coyne Jr. “Some of these lakes are nine feet deep; we had to dewater them, line them and then capture the natural ground water from the New Jersey Turnpike through a series of culverts. The main source of water for this course will be rainwater.”
Over the past several years, Armored has had an average of 40 workers and 15 machines on site for the project, with Volvo iron making up the lion’s share of his fleet.
Volvos, according to Coyne Jr., save him a lot of money on a project of this scale.
“In today’s market, a big thing is the fuel economy of the Volvos,” said Coyne Jr. “They’re very fuel-efficient. I pay the bills and I’m very conscious of what everything costs me, and they’re [Volvos] the pick of the litter. Plus, the service is great from LB Smith and Todd Ewing, my territory manager. If something breaks, they come to fix it right away. They’re always just a phone call away.”
Adjacent to Liberty National Golf Course is condominium development called Port Liberte. These one- and two-bedroom homes range in size from 766 to 1,510 sq. ft. of living space and are located in four-story, mid-rise buildings with European-inspired architecture and indoor parking. Some are finished and more are currently being built. In all there will be 2,400 units.
In the northeast corner, near where Liberty National’s clubhouse will be, a project soon will get under way to construct the Residences at Liberty. This $224-million project will consist of three residential towers (approximately 52 stories tall), retail space, golf club house, parking and swimming pool.
For his part of the project — the golf course — Coyne Jr. is reflective over how much work has been done and how much the area has changed.
“This place used to be an eyesore. For the longest time, all you’d be able to see from the turnpike is an abandoned oil storage facility … now you see trees and that’s much better.”