The proposed Essex-Hudson Greenway Project is a vision to turn nearly nine miles of an unused rail line into a spectacular linear park.
When complete, it would connect eight municipalities in the two counties: Jersey City, Secaucus and Kearny in Hudson and Newark, Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge and Montclair in Essex.
Fitness enthusiasts could bike it. Nature lovers could stroll it. Commuters could amble, skate or bike their way to and from work or school with no traffic.
It’s a plan decades in the making.
People have been talking and writing about it more recently because a critical deadline to get all of the parcels of land in place for it is coming up in January – which might as well be “tomorrow’’ in bureaucrat-speak.
The property is the route of the Norfolk Southern Railway Company’s former Boonton Line, Michele S. Byers, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, explained in an opinion piece.
The line was discontinued in 2002 and last year the nonprofit Open Space Institute reached an agreement to buy its 135 acres for $65 million, she wrote. But if funding doesn’t come through in the next six months, Norfolk Southern could begin selling off the land for local development.
That would be a major missed opportunity, which is why we add our voice to calls for Gov. Murphy to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Late last month, a Murphy spokesman told NJ Advance Media that the governor is supportive of the plan but was concerned about a proposed funding structure involving a loan from the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank.
“The administration is willing to work with all stakeholders on exploring options to assist in funding this important project,” spokesman Michael Zhadanovsky said.
Local officials and open space advocates must keep the pressure on to be sure the clock doesn’t run out.