Monday, June 6, 2016

Expansion of Newark's Riverfront Park to Bridge Street Moves Forward

Newark, New Jersey: After more than a decade of planning, the long-awaited expansion of parkland along the Passaic River waterfront in Newark could finally begin soon. According to a legal notice issued this week, Mayor Ras Baraka approved of a bond ordinance for Riverfront Park's expansion on May 31st. 

Currently, the park, which is managed by Essex County, consists of 12 acres along Raymond Boulevard in the Ironbound with athletic fields, walking trails, a dock used for boat tours, and playgrounds. Under the new project, the Riverfront Park will be expanded to the Bridge Street Bridge in Downtown Newark. It will pass the Jackson Street Bridge and Newark Penn Station, and will be built adjacent to McCarter Highway/Route 21. It will include the trail near the FBI's Newark office. 

Once the expansion is complete, Triangle Park will be located at the south end of Newark Penn Station while Riverfront Park will be located at the north end. 

$41,550,000 will be appropriated for the project, including $16,550,000 in grants, according to the notice. $25,000,000 will be issued in bonds or notes to help finance the costs. Between 12.42 and 38.69 acres of land will be acquired by the City of Newark. The legal notice also states that pedestrian and bicycle pathways, benches, a boathouse, athletic fields, habitat areas, a new floating dock, a stage, an amphitheater, exercise courses, fitness equipment, playground equipment, restroom facilities, and decorative fences are planned for the expanded park. 

Currently, according to NJ Parcels, properties along the Passaic River are owned by the State of New Jersey, the City of Newark, Hartz, Matrix, the Newark Housing Authority, Seabra Brothers, and others. 

Riverfront Park opened in 2012, and in 2015, Newark residents voted for a tax increase to help fund the expansion of the park.

However, this new project could be just the beginning of riverfront development in Newark. The Newark Municipal Public Access Plan states that parks along the Passaic River could come to Chester Avenue in the North Ward, near the NX Bridge along Passaic Street, and next to Clay Street in the Lower Broadway neighborhood.

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