Partnership to Build Riverfront Park Along Passaic River (NJ)

Newark, NJ, 3/18/2009: Mayor Cory A. Booker, Deputy Mayor Stefan Pryor, Toni L. Griffin, Director of Community Development, and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today a partnership to design and build Newark’s first riverfront park along the Passaic River. The City of Newark Division of Planning & Community Development and TPL will work together to manage the project, which includes a broad public engagement process to inform the design of the park. At the request of the City, TPL will manage the process for design and construction of the project.

The park will be built between Jefferson and Oxford Streets on the Passaic Riverfront in the City’s East Ward. The first public community meeting, held on March 10, drew over 100 residents and an additional public community meetings are scheduled to share information on the project and allow public discussion with the project team on Tuesday, May 5, 2009. The meeting will be held in City Hall, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Construction is expected to begin in 2010.

The project will be the first built project based upon Mayor Booker’s resident-centered vision of a revitalized riverfront. “Newark’s historic riverfront has long been the victim of public neglect and environmental abuse,” Mayor Booker said. “Now we are re-connecting our residents with this waterfront, providing them with an open space for recreation and enjoyment, while adding green spaces to our City. Through this partnership with The Trust for Public Land, we will have a riverfront that is worthy of Newark’s greatness.”

Newark’s long history and growth are closely linked to the Passaic River, which enabled industry and commerce to thrive during much of the last two centuries. Today, however, Newark is alienated from the Passaic River in almost every way imaginable, with many stretches fenced out, barricaded, or blocked off. The City of Newark’s goal is to create the riverfront that brings people together from across the City and beyond, increases the City’s environmental health, contributes to the economic well-being, provides safe and convenient access, is affordable to build and maintain, and becomes a new symbol of the City’s proud history and bright future.

The City of Newark has secured over $3 million in funding from the Urban Enterprise Zone and the New Jersey Green Acres Program to fund the first phase of construction. The New Jersey Department of Transportation I BOAT NJ program and New York/New Jersey Baykeeper have provided $152,000 for construction of a public floating dock, the first of its kind to be built in Newark in a century. TPL is leading a private fundraising effort to complement the public funding committed to the project.

Development of the site will begin with environmental remediation of the former industrial parcels, followed by the creation of park facilities, including a public access floating dock, a riverfront trail, and new plantings. The project will be enhanced with improved pedestrian connections to the surrounding Ironbound (East Ward) neighborhood. The park will also include the first portion of the Joseph G. Minish Riverfront Trail, a long-term project to create a pedestrian promenade along the length of the Passaic River in Newark

“The Trust for Public Land applauds the City of Newark for kicking off redevelopment of its Passaic riverfront with a park in the Ironbound,” said Scott Dvorak, TPL’s Newark Program Director. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the City and look forward to lending a hand to create a much needed park that the entire city can be proud of. This project is a great part of TPL’s broader Newark program to design and build community-directed, public spaces in neighborhoods where outdoor recreational opportunities are sorely lacking.”

The park’s development will be guided by a Steering Committee, including representatives of Essex County, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Ironbound Community Corporation, to ensure that all the property-owning and implementing entities coordinate efforts in planning and constructing the project.

The landscape architecture firm working on the project is Lee Weintraub Landscape Architects. The firm’s principal, Mr. Weintraub, is an award-winning landscape architect with a long record of successful waterfront projects in urban neighborhoods and former industrial sites.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land

for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.5 million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 23,000 acres in New Jersey. TPL’s Parks for People-Newark program was launched in 1995 to address the dire lack of outdoor recreational space in Newark’s neighborhoods. TPL is currently working to complete a $30 million investment in 11 of Newark’s parks and playgrounds.