Last week, Mayor Cory Booker cut the ribbon on Newark’s beautiful new Riverfront Park along the Passaic River. The site, once marred by contaminated soil and heavily polluted water, now boasts walking and bike paths, a floating boat dock and an 800-foot bright orange boardwalk crafted from recycled materials. Local residents are taking advantage of the new public green space where riverfront yoga, Zumba classes and live concerts will soon be regular attractions. After overcoming a decades-long fight to restore access to the waterfront, the project is now a neighborhood jewel symbolizing revitalization and restoration.
The park, designed by Lee Weintraub Landscape Architecture and Newark’s Planning Office, features a series of fun and educational pictographs engraved within the orange boardwalk’s rail. Visitors can learn about Combined Sewer Overflow, the town of Harrison, the Dioxin Disaster, the Jackson Street Bridge, and the Passaic River as they stroll along the boardwalk. Metal lounge chairs are perfect for taking in the summer breeze and tall vertical beams provide inspiration for a great game of tag.
“For generations, people in Newark toiled on the river’s edge in the industries and the factories, and then for decades we were really disenfranchised from it, and now finally we get to reclaim it,” said Ana Baptista, a director at the Ironbound Community Corporation to WNYC. Baptista’s organization was one of many nonprofit community groups that helped to bring the $9 million park project to fruition.
The blighted property was once home to a former factory site that left its fair share of memories and toxic chemicals behind when the once booming industrial city went bust. Over 3,700 tons of contaminated soil had to be removed and replaced with new soil—an action that the city will have to face again as they plan to expand the park by over 3 acres in the future.
Via Arch Paper