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Mayor of New Jersey town in dispute with nature advocates over pandemic symbol of hope



NORTH HALEDON, N.J. — A mountaintop star erected as symbol of hope during the pandemic is being ordered removed in a New Jersey town.

CBS2’s Meg Baker has more on the controversy.

North Haledon Mayor Randy George is refusing to take down a 25-foot star that sits atop High Mountain Park Preserve.

“The star is not coming down because it helped so many people during the pandemic,” George said.

It lights up at night for all to see.

“Two years ago, I asked for permission to put the star up, and the Nature Conservancy said yes, Green Acres of New jersey said yes, and the Township of Wayne said yes. Now, because of I think two complaints, they want it down,” George said.


A partial owner of the preserve, the Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit that helps preserve land and other resources, said it never gave permission and has ordered North Haledon to take it down.

“It’s an innocuous star. It sits on rock. There is an old fire road that we go up once or twice a week because it is solar powered and battery backup generators, so there’s really not a lot of traffic up there,” George said.

The Nature Conservancy would not go on camera, but said it had “become aware of individuals climbing the star and encouraging others to visit the preserve at night to see it lit up. This presents a real, present and significant public safety hazard, and we do not want people to get hurt. The star is also negatively affecting habitat.”

In 2000, the borough donated 89 acres to the nonprofit to be preserved.

“And everybody was very happy because a development was stopped from being built,” George said.

The star sits on that land. Hundreds of residents have signed a petition to keep it.

“I agree with you. I totally agree” one person said.


“I love it. Yes, keep it please. It gives you a thrill when you look up — ‘Oh, there’s that star,’” resident Helen Simi said, adding when asked if the star is a symbol of hope, “It’s just magnificent. I like it”

George said if the Nature Conservancy doesn’t back down, he wants the land the borough donated back.

Source: CBS

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