Mayors, County Commissioner Urge State Movement

July 15, 2021 |

Jersey City and Newark Mayors, Essex County Commissioner Urge Governor Murphy Action on Essex-Hudson Greenway Project Before It’s Too Late

In Star-LedgerEditorial, Fulop, Baraka and Gill Express Concern that Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity is Quickly Slipping Away

NEWARK, NJ – July 15, 2021 –Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka — the mayors of northern New Jersey’s two largest cities — along with Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill are urging decisive action by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and his administration as the opportunity to make the Essex-Hudson Greenway a reality is vanishing. 

Without the prompt creation of a clear path to fund the purchase of nearly nine miles of former rail line property, the project is at significant risk of slipping away.

The local leaders’ public expression of support for the project, which appeared in a Star-Ledger opinion editorial that first appeared on nj.com on July 15, 2021,is especially critical as the window to purchase the former rail line is closing.

In 2020, the Open Space Institute secured a time-limited purchase agreement for the line from Norfolk Southern Railway Company. The deal allows for the line to be purchased in full, rather than have it sold off in smaller pieces — destroying this unique corridor forever.

“Today, we are closer than ever to realizing this goal, but this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is fleeting,” reads the editorial. “However, if prompt action is not taken by our leaders in government to secure the financing for the purchase and construction of the Greenway, the window to purchase the land will expire. Norfolk Southern Rail Line will then be free to sell off sections of the property for development, which will permanently end the dream of a continuous greenway for the people of Essex and Hudson Counties.”

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, Secaucusand Jersey City. Driven by The Open Space Institute and its partners – the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance — work has already begun on the project in terms of planning, surveying, environmental assessments, and more. 

“For decades, local leaders and members of the Northern New Jersey community have been championing the creation of a linear park greenway that would connect neighborhoods, expand greenspace, strengthen local businesses, offer new recreational space to underserved communities and provide much-needed transportation alternatives,” the editorial continues. “The support is there. The economic, recreationaland environmental benefits are real, and the time is now. We urge the Murphy administration to join us in making the dream of the Essex-Hudson Greenway a reality.”

Last week, Governor Murphy publicly expressed his support for this complex and demanding project. Still, without a firm plan to purchase the former rail line, the opportunity to create a linear park in northern New Jersey is at risk.  

Other elected officials and local leaders have stressed the importance of this project, saying it will enhance city life, support urban and suburban communities and build connections to nature and the outdoors. It will also strengthen business corridors and drive local economic development along the new linear park. 

In addition to Fulop, Baraka and Gill, the project has already garnered support from a wide range of elected officials, including New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, United States Representative Mikie Sherrill, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise,State Senator Teresa Ruiz, Mayors Michael Gonnelli (Secaucus), Michael Melham (Belleville), Michael Venezia (Bloomfield), Stuart Patrick (Glen Ridge)and Sean Spiller (Montclair). The public has also been very supportive of the Essex-Hudson Greenway. The project is supported by more than 100 local advocacy groups, representing business, environmental, religious, transportation, public health, faithand civic causes. A full list of supporting organizations is available here.

For decades, local community leaders have been calling for the creation of a linear park on the former rail line property to create a safe, off-road trail to ride a bike and walk; ease traffic and offer active transportation options; create alternate commuting options; provide close-to-home, easy access to the outdoors; and bring much-needed green space to urban communities that are traditionally and negatively impacted by infrastructure development. 

For more information on the Essex-Hudson Greenway Project, visit www.essexhudsongreenway.org

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.