E.P.A. Honors Newark’s Riverfront Park

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today awarded The Trust for Public Land, the City of Newark, and Essex County the agency's "Smart Growth Achievement" award for the development of Newark's Riverfront Park on a former industrial site on the city's Passaic River waterfront.

"Today this park is used by many people in Newark and meets a need which local residents have long asked for. We are pleased and grateful that the EPA recognizes this collaborative effort, and the benefits it is providing to Newark," said Scott Dvorak, the Newark program director of The Trust for Public Land.

Comprised of more than 16 acres of recently developed public park space, much of it on previously contaminated industrial land, the riverfront park system now includes playing fields and courts for soccer, football, tennis and basketball, along with a bikeway and walking trail, a riverfront boardwalk, floating dock, and playgrounds, along with signs detailing the history of the area. The first phase of the park opened in 2012, after four years of planning, community input, environmental clean-up and fundraising.

The EPA's Smart Growth Achievement award recognizes exceptional approaches to development which respect the environment, foster economic vitality, enhance quality of life, and provide new opportunities for disadvantaged communities. The award was given at the EPA headquarters, in the Plazas, Parks and Public Places category.

"As part of our commitment to help communities grow in ways that protect the environment and support other local goals, EPA is pleased to recognize the winners of this year's National Award for Smart Growth Achievement," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "The smart growth strategies behind this year's award winners will leave present and future generations with greener, healthier, more prosperous communities."

"We are honored that the The City of Newark has been recognized for our commitment to sustainability with the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement by the Environmental Protection Agency, said Mayor Ras J. Baraka. "Through our innovative partnerships and collaborations with leading community stakeholders, we have been able to ensure that our citizens and nature co-exist in environmental productive harmony. To be recognized with so many esteemed previous Smart Growth Achievement Award recipients is a testament to the capacity of public-private partnerships towards global environmental goals."

"The City of Newark is committed to developing a sustainable city," said Newark Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson." Newark's Riverfront Park shows that a public and private partnership can work together to build healthy economies, strong neighborhoods and open space for our community. We are in the process of a significant expansion of Riverfront Park. In fact, the Newark Municipal Council recently authorized a referendum to increase the park by 15 acres, which will include walkways, performance space and a boathouse."

Developed in two phases, the now-complete sections of the park cost approximately $25 million in total to develop. Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, including the City of Newark, Essex County, and the State of New Jersey. The Trust for Public Land also raised more than $3 million in private support from a variety of partners, including Prudential Financial, Inc., the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Victoria Foundation, and other donors committed to Newark. The Kresge Foundation contributed $2 million to the project.

The Trust for Public Land and the City are currently finalizing designs for the next phase of park development along the riverfront, which will add an additional 3 acres to the park. Construction is expected to commence in early 2016.