State of New Jersey to Secure Purchase Rights for Former Rail Line to Create Nine-Mile Greenway in Northern New Jersey.
State to Allocate $65 Million to Acquire Former Railway Property for Transformational Linear Park Project
After decades of local advocacy and outreach and more than three years of direct negotiations, the Essex-Hudson Greenway (EHG) Coalition announced on November 12, 2021, that the State of New Jersey will secure purchase rights to nearly nine miles of former railway, spanning two counties and eight municipalities in one of the most highly populated regions of northern New Jersey. Under a framework announced by Governor Phil Murphy earlier on Friday, the State will purchase the 135-acre property.
The Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition – comprised of the Open Space Institute, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, and September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance – has been advocating for the project, which will create a green space solution that will provide walkers, runners, cyclists, hikers, and others with a linear park and multi-use trail connecting Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City.
“Today’s announcement by the State of New Jersey completes the first major step in making this Greenway a reality. We commend Governor Murphy, all the local leaders and elected officials who recognized the extraordinary potential of the Greenway, and our coalition partners – New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance – who have been key partners in growing support for the Greenway,” said Kim Elliman, President and CEO of the Open Space Institute, which secured the rights to purchase the former Boonton Line from Norfolk Southern Railway for $65 million nearly two years ago. “We are proud of the role we played to negotiate the deal, bring stakeholders together, and generate public and private support for the initiative.”
“Governor Murphy’s announcement on the provision of funding for the Essex-Hudson Greenway is a monumental step for the future of northeastern New Jersey,” said Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, a longtime advocate of the Greenway. “Upon its completion, the EHG will serve as a blueprint for future environmentally friendly infrastructure projects nationwide, while helping our local communities rebound from the financial challenges we experienced due to the pandemic.”
In July 2020, the Open Space Institute (OSI) reached a preliminary purchase and sale agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway for the property in Essex and Hudson Counties for the purpose of the Greenway. Local community leaders have been calling for the creation of a linear park on the former rail line property to create a safe, off-road trail to ride a bike and walk; ease traffic and offer active transportation options; create alternate commuting options; provide close-to-home, easy access to the outdoors; and bring much needed greenspace to urban communities that are traditionally and negatively impacted by infrastructure development.
“This Greenway project has been a major campaign of ours for nearly a decade and we are thrilled that
the State has taken this critical step in making this dream a reality that will offer so many benefits to all our residents,” said Debra Kagan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition. “We want to express our gratitude to Governor Murphy and his staff, along with our coalition partners, whose hard work has made this milestone possible. We also want to thank the many community organizations and elected officials who lent their vital support and the thousands of grassroots supporters who made their voices heard and took part in the effort to get us this far. This Greenway will bring enhanced quality-of-life to the entire region, provide access to open space to underserved communities, and be a landmark of development that promotes healthy communities.”
“We are happy that the State of New Jersey has stepped forward to do their part to make sure that we can bring this valuable Greenway and recreational space to the people,” said Thomas Baxter, President of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance. “In addition to its impact at the local level, this project has major national significance as a major New Jersey component of the recently designated 9/11 Memorial Trail. We extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Governor, representatives of the various state departments, and our own community and elected leaders who help us reach this pivotal point. We continue to appreciate the ongoing support of the community, as well, and the countless members of the public who have been advocates for the project over the years.”