By Steven Fulop, Ras Baraka and Brendan Gill
For decades, local leaders and community members in Northern New Jersey have championed the creation of a linear park greenway that would connect neighborhoods, expand green spaces, strengthen local businesses, provide new spaces to recreation to underserved communities and provide much-needed transportation alternatives.
The Essex-Hudson Greenway – which when completed will be a 100 foot wide and almost nine mile long open space trail connecting Jersey City to Montclair and passing through Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark , Kearny, Secaucus and Jersey City – will provide all of the aforementioned benefits. In addition to connecting neighboring communities to business districts, parks and workplaces, the presence of the Green Lane will add tangible value to the homes and local economy of the communities located on its route.
Elected officials and local leaders have emphasized the importance of this project, saying it will improve urban life, support urban and suburban communities, and connect with nature and the outdoors. It will also strengthen trade corridors and stimulate local economic development along the new linear park. In addition, it has been established that the property values of homes located near greenways often increase by 5-15%, which would provide another additional benefit to both homeowners and the local tax base.
Additionally, in keeping with President Biden’s emphasis on the need to improve infrastructure across the country as we ‘build back better’, the Essex-Hudson Greenway will serve as a model for future infrastructure initiatives to nationwide by demonstrating the positive effects that large scale environment friendly transportation projects can have on our community.
Today we are closer than ever to achieving that goal, but this unique opportunity is fleeting. The Open Space Institute has reached an agreement on the purchase price of the old Boonton line, the land on which the greenway would be built. However, if swift action is not taken by our leaders in government to secure funding for the purchase and construction of the greenway, the land purchase window will expire. Norfolk Southern Rail Line will then be free to sell sections of the property for development, which will definitely end the dream of a continuous greenway for residents of Essex and Hudson counties.
Still, there is hope. Governor Phil Murphy publicly expressed his support for the project last week. This is good news indeed, and the governor’s influence is crucial. The depth of this project is complex and demanding. Despite these challenges, the benefits for the people of northern New Jersey will be extraordinary, and the opportunity for Governor Murphy – and the State of New Jersey – to lead the creation of this heritage project will be far-reaching and historic.
Rebuild our economy, improve access to the outdoors for all, promote green solutions to tackle pollution and tackle climate change, and provide safe recreation areas to underserved communities that large infrastructure projects traditionally have. Victimized are all examples of important, meaningful long-term benefits that enhance the legacy of our government leaders.
The public has been very supportive of the Essex-Hudson Greenway. Local businesses, environmental leaders, civic groups, religious organizations, library associations, public health and parks advocates, mayors and other elected officials who represent communities along the line have all rallied around the need to carry out this project.
The support is there. The economic, recreational and environmental benefits are real, and the time is right. We urge the Murphy administration to join us in making the Essex-Hudson Greenway dream a reality.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is the Mayor of Jersey City. Ras Baraka is the mayor of Newark. Brendan Gill is the Essex County Commissioner.
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