Essex and Hudson Counties, NJ – Partners for Health Foundation has made a two-year grant to the Open Space Institute (OSI) to inform the development and design of a long-sought nine-mile, multi-use greenway following the path of the Old Boonton train line through Montclair, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield on through Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus and Jersey City.
The Essex-Hudson Greenway would provide new healthy outdoor recreation opportunities for walkers, bikers, birders, and other nature lovers, while improving transportation options and providing off-road safety for area residents.
The grant from Partners for Health will be used by OSI and their advocacy partner, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, for community outreach in Montclair, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield. The goal is to ensure that residents who live near the trail are encouraged to participate in the trail design, as they have the most to benefit from it.
The transformative conversion of the old train line into a shared community greenway has been a long-term regional goal. In early 2020, OSI secured a time-limited purchase agreement for the line from Norfolk Southern Railway Company. In July 2020, Norfolk Southern made public its intent to formally abandon the line. In October 2020, both Hudson and Essex County passed resolutions expressing support – the first official sign of support for the Essex-Hudson Greenway project by the counties.
A long-held vision of all the communities along the route, the resolutions solidify the intent of both Essex and Hudson Counties to work with OSI to seek financing and ownership for their portions of the Essex-Hudson Greenway. OSI is also working to provide initial guidance for development of the property as a multi-use trail and provide detailed information regarding current site conditions.
With abandonment in hand, Norfolk Southern will look to sell this asset quickly. OSI’s agreement represents the best chance that the corridor remains completely intact for the public’s use.
In addition to its health and transportation benefits, the creation of a new Essex-Hudson Greenway offers a range of other environmental and economic benefits. The project stands out as especially vital as the public turns more and more toward local access to green space. The project also offers the potential to reduce traffic 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 and 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.
About Partners for Health Foundation
Partners for Health Foundation envisions thriving communities that ensure health for all residents. Our mission is to advance health equity through learning, grantmaking, and advocating. Since 2008, the Foundation has made grants totaling more than $15 million.