Essex Hudson Greenway is A GO! Gov. Murphy Announces 9-Mile Linear State Park

It’s an open space legacy game changer for Essex County and they are saying it will be greater than the High Line.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced his intent to create a new 9-mile linear state park and transit way at the Bloomfield Public Library Friday morning. There isn’t yet an official name for the new park, but the Essex Hudson Greenway project has been a long time coming.

Connecting the communities of Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City, the park will also provide a new pedestrian route and protect our environment by providing residents with a new and convenient method to reach their destinations without the use of a car.

From left to right: Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller, Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, Deb Kagan, Executive Director of the NJ Bike & Walk Coalition, Montclair Councilor-at-Large Peter Yacobellis and John Sullivan of Bike and Walk Montclair.

“This project has been years in the making, and I am proud to be the Governor to advance this dream to being a reality,” said Governor Murphy. “This new park will be a crown jewel of our state park system, providing much-needed recreational space to New Jerseyans and out-of-state visitors, while revitalizing and protecting environmentally-sensitive areas. Residents of our state’s two largest cities, and the suburbs beyond and in-between will benefit from access to a multi-use trail, and the natural beauty of the Meadowlands.”

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said that if the governor didn’t step up to the plate, the project would not happen, adding that preserving open space and creating recreation opportunities for Essex County residents has been an ongoing initiative of his administration.

“We are doing to be responsible for the miles located in Essex County and making sure that it’s maintained and secure. This is great for Essex, it’s great for Hudson, but this is a state project. This is going to be a destination, just like the High Line,” said DiVincenzo, adding. “I would like to see this get done in my lifetime.”

Preserving open space and creating recreation opportunities for Essex County residents has been an ongoing initiative of the Executive’s administration.

“NJ TRANSIT and the Open Space Institute have been working together for more than a year to ensure the Boonton Line will become a wonderful outdoor experience for walkers, runners and bicyclists, while also preserving the potential for environmentally-friendly public transit in the future,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “Greenways and smart, clean public transit are vital to the quality of life in New Jersey, and I’m proud that our continued partnership will assure that these critical needs, for green space and green transportation, will have the opportunity to be fulfilled together.”

“Without question, this deal underscores all the merits of public-private partnerships and strategic land protection in one package. The Greenway project will make it easier for millions of people to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors, completely transform the way communities connect with nature and connect with each other, linking people to parks, waterways, and their neighbors – all while creating alternative transportation options, improving water quality, and spurring economic activity,” said Open Space Institute President and CEO Kim Elliman.

“I am so proud of the Essex-Hudson Greenway project and the broad coalition that’s come together to support it,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. “In this densely populated area of our state, building a bike and hiking trail along out of use rail lines will link together communities, improve quality of life, expand our state park system and revitalize our towns. During COVID, we realized the value of our outdoor spaces. This greenway will allow communities to come together and provide business opportunities along the trail. I can’t wait until this is completed. I know my family and many others in the region will treasure it.”

“This is great news and I applaud Governor Murphy’s leadership in building this park,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. “This new park will create walking trails and biking trails to allow my constituents to enjoy nature throughout the 10th Congressional District. As a strong supporter of the environment, I am proud that this park will protect miles of wetlands in northern New Jersey.”

“Governor Murphy’s announcement on the provision of funding for the Essex-Hudson Greenway was a monumental step for the future of Northeastern New Jersey,” said Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, a longtime advocate of the Essex-Hudson Greenway for the last 10 years. “Upon its completion, the EHG will serve as a blue print for future environmentally friendly infrastructure projects nationwide, while helping our local communities rebound from the financial challenges we experienced due to the pandemic.”

The new park will pass through a diverse landscape of existing parks and wetlands, as well as urban, suburban, and industrial areas. The park will include walking paths, bike lanes, and other recreational uses, allowing visitors to take full advantage of a trail that exhibits the varied landscapes of our state including the scenery of the Meadowlands. Funding for the park will be provided through a collaborative effort by the Murphy Administration, including the support of the Department of Environmental Protection and NJ TRANSIT, the Legislature, and New Jersey’s congressional delegation, utilizing American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. Over the past few years, NJ TRANSIT and the Open Space Institute have been engaged in negotiations with the Norfolk Southern Corporation for the purchase of this land, which will now be possible with the State’s support. The State’s acquisition of the land also allows its potential future use for mass transit purposes, alongside recreational uses.

“On behalf of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and all our members we want to express how thrilled we are at the announcement today and express our gratitude to the Governor and his staff, for this major step that will lead to the creation of the Greenway,” said Debra Kagan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition. “This is the culmination of over a decade of advocacy and we thank our dedicated coalition partners, the community groups, local leaders, and thousands of grassroots supporters who persevered to get us to this great day.”

“Today the Governor announced that the Essex Hudson Greenway would move forward. This is an amazing day for Montclair and the region! Ever since I heard about this project years ago, I’ve been daydreaming about the possibilities this could mean for our town,” said Montclair Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis. “To have a 9-mile linear park and pathway to connect Jersey City and Newark to Montclair, creates significant economic development opportunities for our town and new ways for people to get to points east of here.

“I hope this approval will now instigate the development of better biking and walking infrastructure in town, starting with creating a vital connection from the Greenway to downtown along Glenridge Avenue,” Yacobellis added.

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  1. Since the Greenway is becoming more likely…and assuming it’s terminus access to Pine St can be worked out with NJT, it seems the Township should be actively looking at a future scenario where a Greenway access path could be continued up the line to Walnut Street. As appealing as the idea may be, I would have been, until recently, the first to say it is unrealistic. But, I learned that NJT granted a 10’ Right of Way easement to the former owners of 103 Grove St, but to be left fallow in the redevelopment plan before the Planning Board. Unfortunately, our land use committee has made design recommendations to the applicant that would effectively preclude an extension of Greenway that could share the RoW easement. Unfortunately, the myopic nature of the Planning Board’s application review process, without additional formal input from the Township or the Council, eliminates this from the Board’s weighing of the Public Benefits in granting the requested variances. Upon the application’s approval, assuming the recommendations are incorporated, the connectivity opportunity is lost. Too bad we didn’t have the foresight to address this in the Master Plan or have the left hand talking to the right hand.

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