"I think that there's no side who's entirely right and no side who's entirely wrong," Jackson, who became commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection two months ago, said in an interview. "It's not a black-and-white issue."
"Certainly as an environmentalist, all other things being equal, of course I would rather see open space and a place for conservation. But I'm not going to do that without consideration of what the folks who are trying to develop it are trying to do for their town."
Jackson agreed to reopen the state's decision after being asked about it in her confirmation hearing. She said she was keeping open the possibility of reconvening the state's Natural Lands Trust, the group that rejected the donation.
Even if she decides against that, however, DEP still controls any development permits on Petty's, she said.
Protection of the eagles' nest is a "no-brainer," Jackson said, but pointed out that the eagles had chosen to build near the island's noisy trucking facility.
She also is emphasizing the island's cleanup. Her boss said that was a top priority. "First things first: Let's get the settlement with Citgo," Corzine told The Inquirer's Editorial Board last week. He has not taken a strong position on the island's development, although he said repeatedly during the gubernatorial campaign that he opposed plans for the golf course.
This is going to be a pretty tough compromise to make, keeping both the Pennsauken development interests and the environmentalists happy; or if not happy, at least not steaming mad. I'm glad to see Corzine feels this is a top priority for the DEP, and it's pretty impressive that Jackson was willing to jump right in at the beginning of her tenure. According to the article, Jackson is widely seen as an apolitical figure, which may help her here- the development/conservation of Petty's Island has been a political mess.
Now, let's see what the compromise entails.
(Hat tip and thank-you to DBK at Bluejersey.net.)