More than 2,200 letters generated, 78 supporting organizations, and seven local municipal resolutions passed urging support for the linear park project
Northern New Jersey – April 22, 2021 – Open Space Institute, along with the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, today announced that the number of letters generated in support of the Essex-Hudson Greenway to local elected officials has surpassed 2,200. This direct local advocacy builds on more than 100 virtual community meetings and informational sessions that were attended by approximately 1,500 people over the past 10 months.
During this same period, support resolutions were approved by both Essex and Hudson Counties. In addition, Jersey City, Secaucus, Newark, Bloomfield, Belleville, Glen Ridge, and Montclair also passed supportive resolutions as did the Boards of Education in Bloomfield and Belleville.
Open Space Institute reached a preliminary purchase and sale agreement in July 2020 with Norfolk Southern Railway Company for property in Essex and Hudson Counties for the purpose of the Greenway. The agreement set the stage for a nearly nine-mile transformational linear park that will provide new recreation opportunities for walkers, bikers, birders, and other nature lovers, while improving transportation options for area residents. The purchase agreement has a sale deadline of January 2022.
“Open Space Institute is excited to report on the growing support by local residents, areas businesses, community leaders, and elected officials who are joining together to make the Essex-Hudson Greenway a reality,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “While there is still much work ahead, I want to thank our partners in this effort, especially Hudson and Essex County Commissioners, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, the September 11th National Memorial Trail, and all those who have advocated for this project. These tangible efforts are critical in demonstrating widespread support for this transformational linear park.”
A long-held vision of all the communities along the route, the Essex-Hudson Greenway holds tremendous public support. While the purchase agreement in place is the closest the project has ever come to fruition, many steps lie ahead, including environmental and engineering reviews, financing, construction and design. Looking ahead, community engagement and outreach will be key as the project progresses.
The New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance are key partners and major advocates in growing support for the greenway. The Open Space Institute’s efforts to create the Essex-Hudson Greenway is being generously supported by the Thomas L. Kempner Jr. Foundation.
“Community input and support is essential to the success of the Greenway,” said Debra Kagan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition. “Our work in the communities continues to show tremendous public enthusiasm for this project throughout the region. While we still have much to do to make sure this project becomes a reality, we are beyond excited to report about all the positive feedback we are receiving.”
“The Essex-Hudson Greenway is an important environmental and economic asset and is a true treasure,” said Thomas Baxter, President of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance. “The project is an alternative transportation game changer for the region and a significant piece of the September 11th National Memorial Trail. We are very pleased to see the positive response from the communities along the line to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition has been holding, and continues to hold, virtual town hall meetings with communities along the proposed length of the Essex-Hudson Greenway to inform residents about the project’s progress, as well as answer any questions the residents may have as best as possible. The linear park, as currently proposed, would span Jersey City, Secaucus, Kearny, Newark, Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge and Montclair.
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 is also expected support job growth in the community. This preliminary work is supporting a number of jobs associated with planning and acquisition work that will lead to hundreds more jobs in construction. The nature of the greenway project also offers the potential to support new and existing businesses throughout the length of the linear park, as well as community improvements such as internet access, stormwater solutions, and emergency response.
Residents of communities all along the property have been campaigning for more than a decade to create a linear park that would serve as a “shared-use path” for people walking, riding a bicycle, running, rolling, or just relaxing along this corridor. Groups including the Bloomfield Open Space Trust Fund, the Friends of the Ice & Iron Trail, and groups in North Newark, Jersey City, and Hoboken have long advocated for the greenway.
In addition to its economic benefits, the creation of a new Essex-Hudson Greenway offers a range of other environmental, transportation, and health benefits – especially as the public turns to local access to green space. The project offers 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.