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OSI-Led Essex-Hudson Greenway to Help Northern New Jersey’s Chronic Stormwater Concerns

MONTCLAIR, NJ (June 16, 2021) – Northern New Jersey’s severe stormwater overflow issues could be addressed with creation of the Essex-Hudson Greenway according to the Open Space Institute (OSI) which, along with the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition, and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, has been spearheading the creation of the linear park.

The Essex-Hudson Greenway project is expected to help local communities address several dire infrastructure challenges including the fact that raw sewage infiltrates and contaminates local streets, area homes, and the Passaic and Hackensack rivers after heavy rains.

“The impact of the Essex-Hudson Greenway cannot be overstated, not only for its positive benefits to stormwater mitigation and public health, but also for its improvement on access to nature and creation of countless new recreational and transportation opportunities that will benefit us, our children, and our grandchildren,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO.

“The opportunity to introduce green infrastructure solutions into the Greenway project is a game-changer for local communities,” said Jennifer Coffey, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, which has endorsed the Essex-Hudson Greenway project. “The combined health and safety benefits along with the savings to taxpayers are enormous.”

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The Essex-Hudson Greenway Project will convert nearly nine miles of rail line into a public greenspace, that will course through Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City.
Image Credit: Peter Karis

“The Essex-Hudson Greenway will not only directly improve the daily lives of people throughout our Northern New Jersey communities, it also has the potential to make this region significantly ‘greener,’” said Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill. “With smart and creative planning, this project will serve as a national blueprint for integrating recreational opportunities, green infrastructure, new transportation choices, and expanded access to broadband in our suburban and urban neighborhoods. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we must get it done.”

The Essex-Hudson Greenway project offers the opportunity to incorporate stormwater management facilities into the Greenway’s design and construction. Without any impact to the line’s use as a park and multi-modal transportation corridor, numerous green infrastructure components can be incorporated into the project to helps stormwater seep into the ground – including raingardens, bioswales, and high-tech cisterns.

In addition to addressing stormwater concerns, the Essex-Hudson Greenway project includes many additional environmental, social, economic, and infrastructure benefits. Not only does the Greenway offer the opportunity to provide a resource for diverse communities that historically did not have access to public greenspace, it also would provide off-road connectivity through some of the most populated communities in the region.

“Much of the enthusiasm surrounding the proposed Greenway is drawn from the potential for improved access to nature and expanded opportunities for recreation, but benefits such as greener options and the potential to integrate green infrastructure are critical to the long-term health of our residents and communities,” said Debra Kagan of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition.

In July 2020, OSI reached a preliminary purchase and sale agreement with the railway property owner, Norfolk Southern Rail Corporation. When complete, the Essex-Hudson Greenway will create nearly nine miles of linear park running through Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City.

For more than a year, OSI and its partners have been advocating for the creation of the Greenway, working with local, county, and state officials. The purchase agreement has a sale deadline of January 2022.

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