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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2003

Contact: Peter Boger or Elaine Makatura
(609) 984-1795

 

DEP ANNOUNCES OPEN SPACE PROJECTS IN HUDSON COUNTY
New Park Improvements Will Help Build Stronger Communities

(03/154) WEST NEW YORK - New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell and West New York Mayor Albio Sires today announced new parks along the waterfront in West New York and Weehawken that the state has approved for open space funding pending legislative appropriation. The parks will transform abandoned piers and link them to the existing Hudson River Walkway, providing community residents with additional access to the waterfront.

"The projects announced today will reconnect residents with their waterfront and their community by providing more places to relax and enjoy the riverscape" said Commissioner Campbell. "In November, citizens across New Jersey will have an important opportunity to help more families and communities benefit from similar opportunities to create parks and to revitalize urban areas by voting on Ballot Questions Numbers 1 and 2."

In West New York, one park project would develop a new park on Pier 8. The project proposal calls for planting lawn and trees and constructing benches, a gazebo and a walkway for greater citizen access to the Hudson River waterfront.

The Weehawken Pier B project would create a community space on a restored pier, destroyed during Hurricane Floyd. The Township is proposing to rebuild the pier with areas for fishing and for outdoor concerts. Pier B abuts Lincoln Park and is adjacent to another open space parcel recently acquired with Green Acres funds.

Standing in Donnelly Park, one of the many parks in West New York refurbished with Green Acres funds, the Commissioner and Mayor were joined by Senator Bernard Kenny, Jr., Senator Nicholas Sacco, County Executive Thomas DeGise, Mayor Richard Turner of Weehawken, Mayor David Roberts of Hoboken, Mayor David Delle Donna of Guttenberg, and local schoolchildren and community residents.

"The West New York and Weehawken pier projects are investments that will provide enormous environmental and cultural dividends for generations of Hudson County residents," said Mayor Sires. "With the transformation of these piers into new parks and recreation areas, community residents will have increased access to the waterfront and expanded opportunities to escape the congestion and pressures of urban life."

The two pier park projects announced today were part of the round of DEP Green Acres funding proposals approved last week by the Garden State Preservation Trust. The proposals must now go before the legislature for approval before receiving final approval from the Governor. The Pier 8 project in West New York would receive $800,000 in funding - $120,000 in loans and a $680,000 grant. The Pier B project in Weehawken would receive an $800,000 matching grant.

The park improvements are further examples of the significant commitment by the State and by Hudson County and its communities to develop recreational opportunities for urban residents. To date, the Green Acres Program has awarded more than $6.6 million in West New York alone to improve several parks and to create or to refurbish playing fields, tennis courts, walkways, swimming pools, and a stadium.

The latest round of DEP Green Acres funding proposals also includes 13 other park and open space projects for Hudson County, totaling more than $6.8 million in grants and loans. Details on these projects can be found at http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/releases/03_0150presspak.pdf.

Statewide, open space preservation and park development are integral to Governor James E. McGreevey's smart growth initiatives, providing focal points for urban and suburban communities to gather and to relax. In complement with efforts to redevelop underused brownfields and abandoned urban areas, these policies are helping to revitalize New Jersey's cities and to maintain the quality of life New Jersey's residents deserve.

The Governor's brownfields initiatives include signed legislation that expands tax reimbursements for projects that convert brownfield sites into residential development. The Governor has also provided $40 million in funding for brownfield investigation and cleanup projects through the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund.

The November ballot contains another brownfields initiative - Public Question No. 2. This measure would establish a long-term funding source to help clean up and redevelop approximately 10,000 contaminated or underutilized sites throughout the Garden State. The ballot proposal would expand the use of Corporate Business Tax revenues dedicated to the state's underground storage tank program, which has a current surplus of $100 million.

The ballot proposal would allow the state to provide municipalities and businesses with loans and grants, using at least 50 percent of the existing $100 million surplus as well as future revenues, which generate a total of about $20 - 30 million each year. If voters approve, up to $50 million would be available the first year alone, without any additional cost to taxpayers.

Since Governor McGreevey took office, DEP's Green Acres program has acquired more than 43,000 acres of open space. The McGreevey Administration's continued efforts to save open space would be enhanced by Public Question No. 1 on the November 4 ballot. This measure, if approved, would allow the Garden State Preservation Trust to issue an additional $150 million in bonds for the preservation of open space, farmland and drinking water in the Highlands, and for improvements to local parks-without costing taxpayers additional money.

The Green Acres program was created in 1961 to meet New Jersey's growing recreational and conservation needs. To date, Green Acres has protected more than 500,000 acres of open space and developed hundreds of public parks, bringing the statewide system of preserved open space to more than 1.2 million acres of open space and farmland.

More information on both ballot questions can be found at http://www.nj.gov/dep/antisprawl/ballot.

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