A 35-year-old toxic Superfund site will be turned into a roughly 30-acre waterfront park in Jersey City after the city announced a $10 million investment to create public access to the open green space on the Hackensack River waterfront.
The park will include a grove of 502 trees as a living memorial. Each tree will represent a Jersey City resident who lost his o her life to the COVID-19 pandemic and who was unable to receive the appropriate funeral services due to safety protocols at the height of the public health emergency.
“Skyway Park is the latest step in expanding our parks infrastructure and bringing further investment to the city’s west side,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “Within the new park, a tree will be planted for each of the moe than 500 residents who were robbed of their live and robbed of a proper farewell due to this pandemic to give their friends and families a place where they can reflect and remember their lost loved ones.”
The new Skyway Park will create open space for recreational and passive use, provide public waterfront access, and extend the Hackensack Waterfront Walkway.
Designs include a pedestrian bridge to connect various sections of the park as well as a pollinator garden framing views of the Hackensack River.
“The Skyway Park Conservancy is proud to partner with Mayor Fulop on this memorial, as the first step in opening Skyway Park up to the citizens of Jersey City,” said Chair of the Skyway Park Conservancy Steve Krinsky. “We are especially enthusiastic about giving people in the surrounding neighborhoods access to the Hackensack River and eventually to a greenway along its shores.”
In 1970, the PJP Landfill site where the new park will be created was used as a dumping ground for dangerous chemicals and industrial waste.
The illegal dumping caused frequent spontaneous subsurface fires until the landfill was capped in 1985 to eliminate additional exposure and prevent future contamination.
In 1982, the 87-acre site was added to the state’s Superfund list.
Since then, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has remediated the site.
While more than 30 acres of the site will be used for the park, it is also home to several newly constructed warehouses and commercial use buildings.
“I am grateful to have played a role in this 50-year saga that involved so many activists and officials across local, state, and federal governments, and I am pleased that Mayor Fulop is completing the transformation of the PJP Landfill Superfund site into the beautiful waterfront Skyway Park,” said Bill Matsikoudis, former Jersey City Corporation Counsel.
“Hackensack Riverkeeper is honored to have played a part in bringing this new park to Jersey City,” said Hackensack Riverkeeper Bill Sheehan. “Turning this polluted superfund site into a public park will provide another place for people to gain access to the Hackensack River.”
According to the city, Skyway Park will serve as a beautiful gateway to the city’s west side.
“Investing in parks and open space has remained a top priority as the return on these investments is invaluable,” Fulop said. “This newest park will be unique in that it will become a destination where we can feel connected to those we lost in these challenging times, and I’m honored to commemorate the late Councilman [Michael] Yun, former police officer and Councilwoman Viola Richardson, and the many others who have made a significant impact in our community.”