Jersey City will spend roughly $2.5 million to build a new park in Jersey City’s Jackson Hill and Greenville area. Bethune Park will be constructed on an existing parking lot along Martin Luther King Drive across the street from the Mary McLeod Bethune Center.
According to the city, it will enhance accessibility for local residents and increase community engagement.
Currently, Fulton Park, a mostly concrete pocket park, stands in disrepair behind a large building.
Under the city’s plan, that park will become a parking lot.
Last year, dueling petitions circulated regarding the plan. One urged the council to support Bethune Park. Another, circulated online by the Jersey City NAACP, opposed the plan.
Opposition from the NAACP
The NAACP sought to keep Fulton Park and the current Bethune Center parking lot, where the new Bethune Park will be constructed. The existing parking lot allows citizens easier access to the Bethune Center, a vital community hub.
The group organized a protest earlier this summer as construction began at Fulton Park.
According to the city, the new Fulton parking lot will be for park-goers and visitors to the Bethune Center. Bethune Park will be 20 percent larger than Fulton Park.
It will feature a stage for live performances and community events, amphitheater seating, an area for farmers markets and food trucks, a large playground, and passive seating areas.
“We’ve been working with community members to come up with a plan that is most beneficial for the surrounding Jackson Hill/Greenville neighborhood,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “This new park is directly in line with our efforts to revitalize the city’s southwest side as parks play a key role in sustainable community development, especially in urban neighborhoods.”
The city said that with the park’s new location, one block north of Fulton Park across the street from the Bethune Center, community center programming can expand outside to the park, which will be safer for the public.
“This has been 10 years in the making, so I’m really encouraged that this park will move forward to become a gem for the Jackson Hill/Greenville area and serve as a safe space for community engagement,” said Council President Joyce Watterman. “With so many families in the surrounding area, and the Bethune Center across the street, I know the new location along MLK will be much better utilized.”
“Jackson Hill is excited to see more outdoor space for residents to enjoy, for family-friendly outdoor entertainment and gatherings,” said Executive Director of the Jackson Hill Special Improvement District Michele Massey. “Our goal is to see a farmers market, to have more families utilizing the playground equipment, and to offer much more in partnership with the Bethune Center.”
Construction is expected to start within the next two months, The council adopted a construction contract with Zenith Construction Services, Inc. for $2.48 million on Aug. 12. with an 8-1 vote.
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