Federal funding formula hurting wetlands restoration at Liberty State Park
The New York-New Jersey Harbor Coalition is calling on congressional leaders from New Jersey and New York to revise a federal policy that hurts this region’s ability to obtain federal funding for environmental restoration projects. Other urban waterways are also negatively affected by the policy.
Under performance-based construction guidelines set by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the federal government prioritizes projects that have the lowest cost-per-acre. This policy, according to the Harbor Coalition, stacks the deck against environmental projects in areas like Hudson County and New York City, where the costs of land, labor, and materials are higher than in other communities.
This policy has, for instance, hurt efforts to restore wetlands at Liberty State Park, located in Jersey City.
In a letter sent last week to various members of congress from New Jersey and New York, the coalition wrote: “The Hudson-Raritan Estuary’s Liberty State Park project in New Jersey is the quintessential example of an aquatic ecosystem restoration project that has suffered under the current OMB ranking system. Liberty State Park is described as one of New Jersey’s “most dramatic parks.” With waterfront views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, this park provides essential open space opportunities for millions of Americans in the most densely populated region in the country. This Army Corps project, designed to restore the aquatic ecosystem and provide greater public access, has advanced to the construction phase and obtained the appropriate non-federal match. However, despite overwhelming public support, the current OMB ranking system has prevented Liberty State Park from receiving the needed federal match to complete this project.”
City breaks ground on new park on Berry Lane
After years of planning, Jersey City, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Hudson County officials broke ground on the new Berry Lane Park, at 1000 Garfield Ave. in the Morris Canal neighborhood.
Berry Lane Park will hopefully be a lynchpin that helps rejuvenate the Morris Canal neighborhood. More than 17 acres of property – including former rail yards, junk yards, auto repair shops, industrial facilities, and warehouses – will be transformed into the largest municipally-owned park in Jersey City.
Acquisition of the 11 properties that comprise the first phase of the Berry Lane Park project spanned nearly five years and included extensive negotiations with property owners. All of the sites were brownfields – vacant, abandoned, or underutilized former industrial or commercial properties. Environmental investigations concluded that cleanup was required due to metals and petroleum contamination, and some of the project sites also included hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen whose remediation is being managed by the JCRA on behalf of a responsible party.
A settlement agreement between the city, DEP, and Pittsburgh Paint and Glass (PPG) paved the way for the creation of Berry Lane Park. Under the agreement, PPG agreed to clean up 21 former chromium sites throughout Jersey City. Remediation began in the summer of 2012.
“This is a vital project for our city, particularly for the residents of the Morris Canal neighborhood,” said Mayor Jerramiah Healy. “With sixty percent of the residents in the immediate area being children under the age of 18, Berry Lane Park will provide the space necessary for recreation and community involvement. The transformation of these fallow and deserted properties will also rid the area of an eyesore and contamination, and will make this neighborhood a more enjoyable place to live.”
The city received nearly $20 million from various funding sources to create the park.
Walk to end Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Association is inviting Jersey City and Hudson County area residents to participate in a scenic three-mile walk in Liberty State Park on Saturday, Sept. 22. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. at the main terminal.
Opening ceremonies will include a special memorial and honorary tribute to all those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
This year’s walk, which is taking place a month earlier than in previous years, is expected to attract more than 2,000 participants. Walkers also will have the opportunity to learn more about the disease and its effect on members of the community.
It is estimated that there are currently more than 350,000 individuals and their care partners in New Jersey struggling to cope with the challenges of Alzheimer's disease. Headquartered in Denville with regional offices in Oradell, Princeton and Red Bank, the Alzheimer's Association offers education and training, support groups, respite care assistance, and a 24-hour, toll-free telephone Helpline. For more information about Alzheimer's disease or the Alzheimer's Association, please call 1.800.272.3900, or visit the Web site at www.alz.org/nj.
The walk will include an appearance from CBS 2 meteorologist John Elliot and music from singer/songwriter Loretta Hagen.
To register, visit www.alz.org/walk or call 201) 261-6009.
Jersey City Medical Center to hold blood drive
Jersey City Medical Center will hold a blood drive on Wednesday, Aug. 29 from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the bloodmobile parked outside the hospital’s main entrance at 355 Grand St.
Donors should bring photo identification with a signature and be in good health. It is recommended that donors eat before donating blood.
“Donating blood is a way to give something back to the community and help others whose lives may depend on these donations, said Joseph Scott, President and Chief Executive Officer of Jersey City Medical Center. “This is particularly critical for hospitals and blood banks during the summer months when donations are reduced because many people are away.”
All donations include a free cholesterol screening and donors will receive a complimentary gift card. For more information, call Donna McMackin at (973) 803-7472 or e-mail her at Dmcmackin@bloodnj.org