The Secaucus Town Council has reiterated its support for the Essex-Hudson Greenway.
The council passed a resolution at the Oct. 27 meeting in support of a proposal that would develop an abandoned Norflolk Southern Railway Company (NRSC) rail line into a “linear” park.
Also at the meeting, the council passed a resolution opposing the construction of the NJ TransitGrid fracked-gas power plant in Kearny. Prior to the resolution’s passage, NJ Transit had aannounced intentions to seek greener alternatives for the proposal.
A linear park
The Essex-Hudson Greenway project is proposed by the Open Space Institute (OSI), in conjunction with the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition (NJBWC), and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance.
The Old Boonton line would be converted into a linear park that would serve as a “shared-use path” for people walking, hiking, cycling, running, or just relaxing.
Thegreenway would be more than nine miles long and 100 feet wide, creating more than 135 acres of new green space.
It will pass through eight municipalities in Essex and Hudson Counties, including Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City.
The proposed Greenway would also link to the East Coast Greenway and September 11th Memorial Trail.
According to the plans, the multi-use trail will provide free recreational opportunities for all ages, encourage healthier lifestyles, bolster local economic development, reduce car trips and carbon footprints, provide additional transportation options, and encourage better environmental stewardship.
Where it stands
Despite the new-found support in Secaucus, the proposal remains in the early stages.
OSI announced on July 31 that it had negotiated a preliminary agreement with NRSC to purchase the rail line for the greenway.
The purchase agreement will expire in 2021, but can be extended into early 2022 if progress is shown.
OSI continues to work closely with NSRC and is in the process of securing financing. The engineering survey and environmental studies are also underway.
In a presentation to the Essex County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 13, representatives from OSI and NJBWC explained that there is a brief window to ensure the proposed greenway becomes a reality. According to the presentation, NSRC will look to sell the property quickly since it acquired abandonment status from the federal government.
Currently, OSI’s main priority is securing the property.
At the caucus council meeting before the regular council meeting on Oct. 27, Secaucus officials said that OSI has been seeking federal and state grants in recent months that would help them acquire the necessary properties associated with the greenway.
Prior to expressing support for the proposal, officials were told to stand by while the county analyzed the plans. The county has since vetted the project, paving the way for Secaucus to do the same.
The Essex County Commissioners passed a resolution in support of the proposal on Sept. 24, followed by the Hudson County Commissioners on Oct. 8.
At the caucus meeting, some Secaucus council members questioned if they could review design plans before offering their support. However, there is a long way to go before designs are ready to review.
Officials said there are still some design issues regarding the swinging bridge that crosses the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus. The proposed linear park would cross that bridge and enter Secaucus near Laurel Hill Park, continuing eastbound into Jersey City.
At the regular meeting, the Secaucus Town Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution offering vocal support for the project without any financial commitment.
According to OSI, there will be many opportunities for community input and discussion throughout the design, planning, and programming stages.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.