By David Cruz
Security at what LG was calling the start of demolition for its new $300 million headquarters today was heavy. City and county police performed sweeps and others with machine guns kept demonstrators – and the uninvited – far from the site where the speeches were being made.
“This project will create thousands of new construction jobs as well as high tech jobs as LG expands it workforce in Englewood Cliffs from 500 today to 1,200 in 2017 and 1,600 in 2020,” said CEO Wayne Park.
The controversial project has stirred passions among preservationists who say the new 143-foot tower will ruin the historic vistas of the palisades, a natural resource that conservationists – many here from upper Manhattan say – shouldn’t fall victim to corporate greed. Larry Rockefeller is the grandson of philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., who created the Cloisters in New York and donated some 700 acres of bluffs on this side of the Hudson to the state.
“How can people go out and buy an LG tv or cell phone when LG is harming an American landmark,” said Rockefeller, suggesting a boycott might be in order. “When the cranes go up, there are going to be a lot of people who are shocked.”
LG may be getting ahead of itself – an appeal of a superior court decision that gave the company the green light to build on the 27-acre site is still pending – and demonstrators here say the company’s moving forward without a final court decision is arrogant.
“They’re breaking ground without sanction,” said C.C. Blackburn, of Manhattan. “They’re just saying, if we break the ground, what can they do about it? That’s why words like ‘arrogance’ are being thrown around.”
But Mayor Tom Parisi – who’s been a backer of the LG plan from the beginning – dismissed the demonstrators.
“Outside are outsiders,” he said. “Everyone has the right to protest but I believe they’re misinformed. I think a handful of people started a publicity stunt showing an over-exaggeration of what this great project will be, and showing that it will ruin the Palisades. I live here. I love the Palisades. I hike the Palisades every weekend. It’s not going to ruin the Palisades. We’re not even on the Palisades.”
Demonstrators say this doesn’t have to be a build or no build situation. They say LG has plenty of room here to build shorter and wider. They say they’re willing to talk with the corporation but, so far, have found no takers.