Passaic River park projected



There may be another municipal park in Harrison’s future.

The “Cape May St. Park,” as it has been tentatively labeled, is targeted for a section of the town’s Passaic River waterfront redevelopment area.

Susan Gruel, a planning consultant for Harrison, said the town “is pursuing a grant from the Hudson County Open Space, Recreation & Historic Preservation Trust Fund to assist with the acquisition and development of a park on Cape May St. across from the Red Bull Arena in order to create and enhance public access and enjoyment of waterfront resources to the Passaic River.”

And, Gruel said, “Specifically, the town wants to incorporate the site into the Waterfront Park/Walkway. The proposed Waterfront Cape May St. Waterfront Park/Walkway will become a destination as part of the Harrison Waterfront Park/Walkway along the river.”

It is anticipated that the new park would accommodate fitness stations (similar to those found in the northern end of Liberty State Park in Jersey City), a dog run, soccer fields, scenic overlooks, a food truck plaza,  wetlands creation and interpretive signage relating to the ecology of the Passaic River waterfront and wetlands, Gruel said.

However, no marina or boat ramp is included in the plans, according to Harrison Mayor James Fife.

The Harrison park project is listed as one of the beneficiaries of a 2014 settlement of a suit filed by the state against companies accused of polluting the Passaic in prior years through untreated discharges of industrial and chemical wastes by riverfront industries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reckons it will need to spend more than $1 billion to clean up the lower eight miles of the river, which are considered the most severely tainted.

In the meantime, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno recently announced that $53 million realized from the 2014 settlement would be applied to projects designed to improve public access to the Passaic at 12 sites along the river.

An additional $14 million from the settlement will fund restoration projects in and around Newark Bay, according to N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin.

From the $53 million pot of money, Harrison is to get two grants: one for $1.8 million to go toward the acquisition of a 6.7-acre site to create public access to the waterfront and another for $3 million to finance the development of the proposed 12.5-acre Cape May St. Park.

At the same time, Harrison has applied to the Hudson County Open Space Fund for two grants: one for $1 million to help finance acquisition costs associated with the new park/walkway and a second for $500,000 to help with actual development expenses.

Additionally, the town is hoping that one of its waterfront redevelopers will be “putting some money into the project,” Fife said.

The town has yet to project an overall cost for the project.

“We own a piece [of land targeted for the park] by the Jackson St. Bridge,” the mayor said. “PSE&G owns the rest. They’ve cleaned that property and they’re going to do some fill.”

Fife offered no timetable for how long it might take to fulfill the prophecy of the new riverfront park.








Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.