TRENTON, NJ-The Hudson river waterfront cities of Bayonne and Jersey City have been lobbying strenuously for a new, $200-million TV tower proposed by the Metropolitan Television Alliance, and the broadcasters’ group really likes the Bayonne site, but the state of New Jersey has largely been silent on the subject. Until now, that is.

In a letter to the Alliance, the New Jersey DEP has made its misgivings known, and has challenged the group to respond to a series of more than a dozen questions. The tower would replace that which stood atop the destroyed North Tower of the World Trade Center. Local TV stations, FM stations and emergency communications are currently using an outmoded broadcast tower atop the Empire State Building, but its signal misses parts of the tri-state area and is generally inadequate in those locales it does reach.

“There is currently no record to support the conclusion that siting the tower in New Jersey…is a sound public policy choice,” wrote DEP commissioner Brad Campbell to the group. In the letter, which was made public late last week, the commissioner added that “I am requesting that [the Alliance] make a submission to establish for the record why siting the tower in New Jersey would present a substantial public benefit.”

DEP’s laundry list of questions touches on everything from environmental impact, to the design and engineering aspects of the proposed tower, to basic aesthetics. As proposed, the structure would rise some 2,000 feet, which would make it the tallest freestanding structure in the world.

For its part, the MTA prefers Bayonne’s proposed site within the former Military Ocean Terminal, a former federal logistics facility that is in the early stages of being redeveloped. To date, it’s the only site that the MTA has presented to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval (the height of the tower would impact the flight patterns of all three of the region’s major airports).

Jersey City’s competitive proposal involves a site adjacent to the Liberty Science Center, and its functions would be incorporated into the center’s educational and demonstration programs. The main difference between the two proposals is that Jersey City wants to put a tourism-related observation deck on the tower. MTA officials have said publicly that they don’t want that added feature, citing the additional $40 million it would cost to build, as well as the possible security risks.

The DEP action, meanwhile, could put the agency at odds with Gov. James McGreevey, who initially asked the broadcasters group to take a look at New Jersey for their tower after they were rebuffed by New York City and State officials.

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