USS Ling needs a new home
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
By MONSY ALVARADO
HACKENSACK -- The USS Ling, moored in the Hackensack River for more than 30 years, needs a new home.
Malcolm A. Borg, chairman of North Jersey Media Group, The Record's parent company, has asked that the World War II submarine be moved from his River Street property. The tract, which the newspaper company leases to the New Jersey Naval Museum for $1 a year, is across the parking lot from The Record.
Last year, NJMG moved its manufacturing operations from its Hackensack headquarters to its Rockaway Township plant, leaving a large portion of the company's building vacant. Borg said the building is no longer suitable for office space, so he is in discussions to sell or develop the company's property, about 25 acres off River Street.
"We are looking at various options including building a new building on this property or either perhaps selling or leasing the rest of the property," Borg, who is honorary chairman of the museum, said Tuesday. "If the Ling were to leave, that would clear a couple of acres of land, so there are a lot of possibilities as to what could happen to this piece of property."
Figuring out where to move the 2,500-ton submarine and related artifacts is proving difficult for members of the Submarine Memorial Association, the non-profit group that runs the museum.
"This puts us in a bind," said Daniel Wilhoft, the group's president. "We are in a situation right now of trying to find another location for the Ling ... but we have not made much progress."
Talk of moving the submarine was initiated last year after Bergen County officials announced plans to replace the old Court Street bridge, which is adjacent to the Ling. The 1908 span, which connects Hackensack with Bogota, is a swing bridge; the county wanted to replace it with a fixed structure, saying it would be less expensive.
But installing a fixed span would require a permit from the U.S. Coast Guard. Officials from the Coast Guard warned that the Ling would pose an obstacle to obtaining the permit because, if the vessel ever needed to be moved, the bridge must swing open.
The county's plans led Borg to send a letter to museum officials asking them to find another location. However, county officials then changed their minds and never applied for a permit, citing concerns raised by museum officials about the hardships of relocating the vessel. Instead, the county now plans to seek bids for a new swing bridge, with construction to begin in the spring, said spokesman Brian Hague. The project is estimated at $10 million to $11 million.
Borg suggested that the vessel be moved to a location with higher visibility, possibly in Camden, home of the USS New Jersey.
"Being here in downtown Hackensack ... people from Bergen, Passaic, Hudson counties have no way of knowing how to get here," Borg said. "River Street, Hackensack, plus [being] on the river, is sort of off the beaten path for a lot of people."
Hope Corse, director of marketing and public relations for the battleship museum in Camden, said officials there are exploring the possibility.
Officials at the Hackensack museum also need to figure out how to pay for a move.
"We have no idea what it's going to cost, but whatever it is, we don't have it," said Tom Coulson, the museum treasurer.
The submarine, which is listed in the state and national Registers of Historic Places, has been on display since 1973 and visited by more than 750,000 people.