JERSEY CITY, NJ — After three days of being shut down due to a state budget impasse, New Jersey is back in business - just in time for the Independence Day holiday.
It may be too little, too late for some residents frustrated that a budget dispute Governor Chris Christie and leaders of the state legislature in Trenton led to the Garden State shutdown.
"Hopefully, it never happens again, so we don't have to go through it," said Jersey resident Priya Prasad, as she walked with her family down a brick sidewalk in Liberty State Park early Tuesday afternoon.
The park had been closed for the previous three days due to the impasse between Gov. Christie and leaders of the state assembly. They had not been able to reach a compromise by July 1 over the state's financial stake in New Jersey's largest private insurer, Horizon Blue Cross/ Blue Shield.
The compromise was finally reached Monday night, allowing the state's parks and beaches to reopen for the Independence Day holiday on Tuesday.
It didn't happen, however, without Gov. Christie having first been spotted and photographed on Sunday sunning himself on a state beach he'd closed to the public.
Now, park goers who were finally able to use the facilities their tax dollars pay for sounded off.
"We are the people," said Sandra Velez of Jersey City, as she and her fiancé strolled through Liberty State Park. "We are the ones paying for all the mistakes they're making, and it's not fair."
She singled out the state assembly as well as the governor for allowing her beloved state park to close.
Its closure forced the annual Freedom Fireworks Festival to be moved out of the park probe canceled altogether. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, over last weekend, directed the festival to relocate to the heart of his city's business district, where festival goers showed gratitude on Tuesday.
"Our legislators and our governor take politics first," said Jewel Douglas, a north Jersey resident. "I'm glad the Jersey City mayor put the people first."
Mayor Fulop said that the festival relocation from the south end of his city to its center had been a challenging task. Fulop called it worth keeping the event alive this year, but also said that he wanted no repeat.
"I'm glad they came to a resolution" in Trenton, the mayor said. "It's unfortunate we're in this situation here. Hopefully next year it'll be where it belongs, in Liberty State Park."