Stormwater issues among the environmental benefits of the proposed greenway project discussed at meeting of Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions
Northern New Jersey – April 27, 2021 – The proposed Essex-Hudson Greenway project will help solve severe stormwater overflow issues that have long plagued communities in the greenway corridor. According to advocates for the greenway and the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) the project will help solve the dire infrastructure challenges that results in raw sewage infiltrating local streets and contaminating area homes and waterways.
The proposed Essex-Hudson Greenway project would create nearly nine miles of linear park connecting Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City. In July 2020, the Open Space Institute (OSI) reached a preliminary purchase and sale agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway Company for property in Essex and Hudson Counties for the purpose of the Greenway. The purchase agreement has a sale deadline of January 2022. For more than a year, OSI working with the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance have been advocating for the creation of the Greenway, working with local, county, and state officials.
“The opportunity to introduce green infrastructure solutions into the Greenway project is a game-changer for local communities,” said Jennifer Coffey, ANJEC Executive Director, which announced the organization’s support for the Essex-Hudson Greenway project. “The combined health and safety benefits along with the savings to taxpayers are enormous.”
“The Essex-Hudson Greenway will not only directly improve the daily lives of people throughout our Northern New Jersey Communities, it also has the potential to make this region significantly ‘greener.’ With smart and creative planning, this project will serve as a national blueprint for integrating recreational opportunities, green infrastructure, new transportation choices, and expanded access to broadband in our suburban and urban neighborhoods. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we must get it done,” said Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, who attended the meeting and spoke in support of the project.
“Much of the enthusiasm surrounding the proposed Greenway is drawn from the potential for improved access to nature and expanded opportunities for recreation, but benefits such as greener options and the potential to integrate green infrastructure are critical to the long-term health of our residents and communities,” said Debra Kagan of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, who presented these and other project components to ANJEC.
Over the past decades, communities throughout New Jersey have had to deal with stormwater overflow events that occur when heavy rains overwhelm existing infrastructure systems, resulting in sewage backing up into streets, homes, and area rivers. Throughout New Jersey, an average of 23 billion gallons of raw sewage are being released every year resulting in growing public health concerns and steep fines for localities.
The Greenway project offers the opportunity to incorporate stormwater management facilities into the design and construction of the Greenway. Without any impact to the line’s use as a park and multi-modal transportation corridor numerous green infrastructure components can be incorporated into the project to helps stormwater seep into the ground – including raingardens, bioswales, and high-tech cisterns.
All communities along the Greenway are serviced by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission and existing infrastructure in the adjacent municipalities includes numerous combined sewer overflows which allow for the discharge of raw sewage into the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers during heavy precipitation events. Including new stormwater management practices, with the installation of state-of-the-art “green infrastructure,” in the construction of the greenway can help to alleviate existing issues with combined sewer overflows.
In addition to addressing green infrastructure and transportation potentials, Kagan’s presentation focused on the environmental, social, economic, and infrastructure benefits of a potential Essex-Hudson Greenway, as it is currently envisioned. The Greenway has the opportunity to provide a resource for diverse communities that historically did not have access to public greenspace, while also providing off-road connectivity through some of the most populated communities in the region.
The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), a non-profit organization, helps New Jersey environmental commissions, individuals, local and state agencies preserve natural resources and promote sustainable communities. The mission of ANJEC is to achieve responsible and sustainable use of New Jersey’s natural resources and protection of environmental health. ANJEC is a statewide organization that provides leadership, education, and support for environmental commissions and other local boards and public officials, and partners with other organizations to advocate for strong state and regional environmental policy.
About Open Space Institute
Founded more than four decades ago, the Open Space Institute (OSI) has partnered in the protection of 2.3 million acres across eastern North America from Quebec to Florida. Over the past 16 years, OSI has worked to protect more than 21,000 acres of New Jersey farms, forests, and local parkland within the Highlands, the Pinelands, the Bayshore, and the heavily developed northeastern suburbs. In addition to the Essex Hudson Greenway, OSI’s current projects include efforts to help protect land and improve water quality in the Delaware River Basin and provide public access to the 1,200-acre Jersey City Reservoir in Boonton and Parsippany.
About New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition
The New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition (NJBWC) is the only statewide advocacy organization for bicyclists and pedestrians and provides a collective voice for everyone who believes that a more rideable and walkable New Jersey means a more livable, equitable, and sustainable New Jersey. NJBWC officially adopted the Essex Hudson Greenway Project in 2014 and has been a leader in building the advocacy campaign to make it a reality.
About the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance
The September 11th National Memorial Trail is a 1,300-mile system of trails and roadways that links the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The route serves as a symbol of national resiliency and character and as a tribute to the fallen heroes who perished on September 11, 2001, and the many heroes who have committed themselves to the response for their country.