Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, Representative Mikie Sherrill, Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop Tout Greenway’s Health and Equity Benefits
Northern New Jersey – June 2, 2021 – Open Space Institute, along with the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, today announced the critical support of federal, state and local elected leaders for the Essex-Hudson Greenway Project.
New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, United States Representative Mikie Sherrill, Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop expressed strong support for the project while addressing the 12th Annual New Jersey Bike & Walk Summit. Each of the leaders highlighted the health and equity benefits of the project. The annual summit, being held virtually in 2021, is hosted by the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition.
“This project is designed to help improve residents’ access to the outdoors and create new recreational and transportation opportunities. It will offer residents of our communities, including the one that I live in, easier access to nature and outdoor activities,” said Lt. Governor Oliver, a resident of East Orange. “In addition to the transportation infrastructure, health, environmental improvements, the Essex-Hudson Greenway Project will also have a positive, lasting impact on local economies, while offering residents safe, alternative ways to get to their places of employment.”
For walkers, runners, cyclists, hikers and others, the proposed Essex-Hudson Greenway would create nearly nine miles of linear park, connecting Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City.
“This is more than just providing commuting alternatives or even about giving people greater access to nature. It’s about connecting people to their communities and other communities around them,” continued Oliver. “We need to continue to foster these new and emerging ideas to make them become a reality. We need more safe spaces, within our state, for pedestrians and bicyclists on the street and off-road, especially in our urban areas and communities of color, which have been historically overburdened with pollution and overdevelopment. One thing we have learned from this pandemic in New Jersey is that people need increased access to outdoor recreation for their physical and mental health.”
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.
“The Essex-Hudson Greenway is a project I am very supportive of, and I was ecstatic to hear the deal to purchase the land could be finalized by the end of the year. This space could be such a positive improvement, expanding opportunities for recreation and community to the eight towns it touches and the State as a whole. I am really hopeful about the future of this project,” said Representative Sherrill, who pledged her commitment to doing what she can to make the project a reality, including looking into the possibility of federal funds to support the project.
“We know that for too long, the same communities that have often been forced to rely on walking, biking and public transit on a daily basis, are often the same communities to receive the least amount of investment,” continued Sherrill. “The most bare essential infrastructure, like continuous sidewalks or bike lanes, are often missing from these communities. With enough advocacy and the right prioritization, we will get to a place where our communities will have the equitable and sustainable infrastructure they need.”
Residents of communities all along the proposed length of the linear park have been campaigning for more than a decade to create a greenway that would serve as a “shared-use path” for people walking, riding a bicycle, running, rolling, or just relaxing along this corridor.
“We are working every day to make sure that our communities across our state are more bike and pedestrian friendly. We are ensuring that our roads are safe with respect to traffic and travel. We are promoting environmental responsibility,” said Essex County Commissioner Gill, a longtime advocate for the Essex-Hudson Greenway project. “We are addressing the concerns of communities that have traditionally been negatively impacted, from a health standpoint, due to their proximity to large infrastructure projects and a lack of access to safe, outdoor recreational areas for exercise and leisure time.”
“I’m excited about riding my bike to Montclair and having dinner there in the not too distant future. So, we are going to have to work together to make that a reality,” said Jersey City Mayor Fulop. “We will be fully on board with whatever resources Jersey City needs to provide to make sure that Hudson County, as a whole, is there 100 percent.”
Spanning an average of 100 feet or more in width throughout its route, an Essex-Hudson Greenway has the potential to offer significant benefits, especially in light of the current health and fiscal crises. The Open Space Institute and its partners have already begun investing in planning, surveying, environmental assessments, and more.
The project also offers the potential to reduce traffic and storm water runoff in towns along the rail line, improve transportation options for residents and allow for improved infrastructure connectivity for things like broadband and emergency response.
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.