Jersey City officials and Berry Lane Park advocates have joined to officially open a nearly 12,000-square-foot skatepark made possible with funding from the Tony Hawk Foundation and Hudson County.
The skatepark is the largest in Jersey City, and the first poured-in-place concrete skatepark in Hudson County, completing the transformation of Berry Lane Park from the once toxic site into the destination it is today.
“This skatepark is a testament to the city’s resiliency and our commitment to invest in the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood, as we’ve worked to transform this 17-acre property from polluted brownfields into usable, open space for residents to enjoy,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “Since opening in 2016, Berry Lane Park has been a premier destination for passive and organized recreation, and we expect this skatepark to be an even bigger draw for our youth and families.”
The land in the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood that was once plagued with old rail lines, junkyards, and auto repair shops has been transformed into Berry Lane Park which now boasts an array of recreational features, including a playground, Splash Park, exercise stations, basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball field, soccer field, and public space.
The skatepark is the sixth and final phase of the park’s transformation, made possible by The Skatepark Project (formerly the Tony Hawk Foundation.)
The Skatepark Project uses a selective process to choose locations nationwide to build high quality, public skateparks for youth in low-income communities.
What sets Jersey City apart from other applicants is the administration’s commitment to reinvigorate the area by expanding recreation in the neighborhood.
But even with its investment, Fulop said the project came up short.The project also received a $500,000 grant from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund.
The new facility
Fulop said the new facility will make up for the loss of a number of makeshift skateparks that local skateboarders had set up but were closed or relocated over the years.
“From a demolished local DIY skatepark in 2007 to an effective partnership with the skaters, municipality, and the JCRA, it’s great to see the Berry Lane Skatepark finally open,” said Programs Manager for The Skatepark Project Alec Beck. “Support from the community has brought this space from untenable soil to a rich experience for action sports enthusiasts of all ages and schedules.”
Local skateboarding pros and young children tested the poured-in-place skatepark, built by TSIVIKOS Enterprises Inc., during the official grand opening.
It features a lay back bank, hipped quarter pipes, a roller, A-Frame ledge combo, split level A-Frame with gap, three-stair rail, bump to ledge, kicker gap, flat rail over gap, clam shell, quarter pipe extension, pump bump, and will feature a backyard bowl at a six-foot maximum depth with a 3,600-square-foot circumference.
Steven Lenardo, a local teacher and owner of NJ Skate shop in Jersey City, was a strong advocate for a local skatepark, according to Fulop.
“This is for my students, to offer them an alternative activity to more traditional sports and keep skateboarding alive and hopefully give it to new people to enjoy as I have my whole life,” Lenardo said.
Council President Joyce Watterman said the new skatepark provides new opportunities for youth to get out, exercise, and remain socially distanced in a safe environment.
The final phase of the Berry Lane Park improvement includes a 2,000-square-foot pavilion, outdoor patio space, concession stand, public bathrooms, and locker rooms. The pavilion will provide walkways, curb extensions, benches, and bike racks.
“Berry Lane Park has become a state-of-the-art recreational facility, so it is an exciting time to finalize this latest phase of construction and completing the transformation of a former industrial site starting with chromium remediation and ending with this state-of-the-art recreational facility that serves as a lifeline for our youth and local community to exercise and socialize,” said Diana Jeffrey, Executive Director of the Jersey City Redevelopment Authority.
Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson said recreation has always been a priority for him, noting “people who make recreation a priority are more likely to feel satisfied with their lives overall. It’s the balance between physical and mental health. Having a recreational outlet helps people deal with common day-to-day issues more effectively as it makes people more optimistic about life.”
“I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of this monumental transformation which is truly representative of how far Jersey City has come in recent years,” said Councilman at Large Daniel Rivera. “We will continue with this momentum to further expand educational and recreational opportunities for all of our youth, empowering the next generation who are the future of Jersey City.”