On April 24, 2013, the City Council ratified a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing the partnership between the City of Jersey City and the Jersey City Parks Coalition. Our organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit parks and open space advocacy organization comprised of 22 community organizations representing parks and green spaces throughout Jersey City.
The City Council’s vote marks a momentous day for the Parks Coalition and our city, and it is something we have strived for since our inception in 2004. In the last two years alone, the Parks Coalition has spearhead city-wide initiatives like the Big Dig, which mobilized hundreds of volunteers, families, and children to plant thousands of bulbs in parks and open spaces across every Ward in Jersey City. The bulbs go in the ground in the fall, and residents reap the rewards of our city beautification efforts in the spring.
Our group plantings are just one of the many means we use to grow and empower our communities. The Memorandum of Understanding will help us multiply our collective impact on improving our city parks for the betterment of all residents.
Jersey City joins the ranks of other sister cities, which also took a leap of faith in partnering with local non-profits to revitalize and maintain urban parks. Jersey City will be in good company, including Atlanta, Ga.; Houston, Texas; Portland, Ore.; San Diego, Calif.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and, of course, New York City with its Central Park Conservancy.
Organizations like the Parks Coalition promote civic engagement, education, safety and programming, but of course, our primary goals revolve around dollars and cents.
According to the 2013 Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, “New Jersey has reported an unmet need of $323 million for its parks system.”
Meanwhile, Jersey City’s Recreation and Open Space Master Plan from April 2008 recommended spending $82.2 million over 10 years to upgrade and refurbish our city park system. Since that recommendation came at the very moment our national economy tanked, it is no surprise that Jersey City has struggled to come up with sums even approaching $82.2 million to implement the Master Plan.
The Parks Coalition’s goal is to grow to the point that we can help the city and our parks fundraise substantial public and private dollars. Formalizing our partnership is a giant leap toward that goal.
None of this would be possible without the vision of our founder, Dr. Clifford Waldman and the ongoing commitment of our dedicated Board of Trustees, members, and volunteers.
We also thank the members of the City Council for their support and for passing the Memorandum of Understanding and Resolution. Thanks are also due to Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis and his team for recognizing this great opportunity for our city.
And special thanks to Director Rodney Hadley for all of his help to our member organizations and for his openness in working toward strengthening our partnership.
Laura Skolar, President
Peter Basso, Vice President
Jersey City Parks Coalition