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NJ could have had F1 race instead of Austin
Austin was not Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone's first choice to stage the 2012 U.S. Grand Prix. Ecclestone touted New Jersey in a March interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.

"It would be in front of Manhattan in New Jersey, with the skyscrapers in the background," Ecclestone told the Italian sports tabloid. "Fifteen minutes from the center of New York to the circuit would be marvelous."

Marvelous it may have been, but shortly after Jersey City's proposal to land a Grand Prix event was made public last month, it was quickly scuttled by public opinion and the mayor.

"I think everyone realized this was wrongheaded, ill-conceived and destructive," said Sam Pesin, president of Friends of Liberty State Park and a former Austin resident.

F1 racing has been absent from the U.S. since 2007, when Indianapolis held its eighth and final race. Officials at Indianapolis Motor Speedway said they couldn't make money from the race without the kind of government support F1 receives in some other countries.

Still, one New York driving club, the Monticello Motor Club, put in a bid for the 2012 Grand Prix. But that club is 90 minutes from New York City, too far to have the city skyline as a backdrop for television.

Meanwhile, New Jersey's Liberty State Park has the same dramatic view of the Big Apple and the Statue of Liberty as the Tom Kite/Bob Cupp-designed golf course that is built on a former industrial wasteland about a 3-wood away from Liberty State Park.

The nearly 600-acre park has hosted the All Points West rock concert. Last year, concert fans tromped around in muck for three days, not unlike the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival, while listening to Jay-Z, Coldplay and Tool. The Park will host the Red Bull Air Race this month, with planes zipping through giant pylons on the Hudson River.

Destination Jersey City, a nonprofit agency operated by the city's economic development department, sent a draft proposal to F1 that called for a 3.6-mile track that could also be used for other sports.

"Between race use, the course will be open to the public for walking, running, biking and in-line skating," the proposal said.

But the proposed F1 project for the park — a former rail yard off the New Jersey Turnpike — drew instant environmental concerns. Pesin immediately fired off a letter to Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy on behalf of Friends of Liberty State Park.

"This is one of the worst ideas Friends has heard of, and we will need to fight against this publicly," Pesin wrote. "There will be statewide opposition."

Pesin, who said he lived in Austin from 1983 to 1985, working as a preschool teacher, did not cite any studies on noise or traffic resulting from F1 racing.

"It was just the wrong idea to build a racetrack in an urban park," Pesin said. "Open space is priceless."

Healy agreed.

"We don't have much open space in Jersey City," Healy said in a statement. "The open space we have, especially at Liberty State Park, is mostly passive and is cherished by our residents and visitors.

"The consensus \u2026 was that this type of event would be too noisy and too disruptive to the peaceful oasis within the confines of our urban setting," Healy said.

Pesin said he's not anti-F1, adding that the project might work for Austin, but he said: "I hope there would be public hearing on it. That it wouldn't be something that is pushed through." The Statesman

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