TRENTON– The New Jersey Keep It Green Coalition (KIG) of over 150 organizations dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of our state’s open space, farmland, and historic resources is thrilled about the recent announcement that New Jersey will secure the purchase rights of a former railway area that spans two counties and eight municipalities to create a nine-mile park, the Essex Hudson Greenway, that will stretch from Montclair to Newark to Jersey City.

“For far too long, urban communities in the state were largely ignored by land preservation efforts, leading to a wide divide in who has access to welcoming parks. This is a huge development and a major step toward changing that dynamic,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey LCV. “This will be one of the crown jewels of the New Jersey Park system, and we look forward to working with the Murphy administration and our environmental partners to make it a reality.”

“We applaud Governor Murphy for this announcement creating a visionary new park for the people of New Jersey. For too long, access to nature has been a mark of privilege instead of a right to be enjoyed by all, but this new park will start to alleviate that divide,” said Eileen Murphy, Vice President of Government Relations for New Jersey Audubon. “NJ Audubon believes parks are an essential part of a vibrant urban community, and this rails to trails project, a nine-mile transformational linear park from Montclair to Jersey City, represents a huge victory for northern NJ residents who enjoy walking , hiking, birding, cycling and just getting outdoors.  Many studies have shown the physical and mental health benefits, economic gains and crime reduction in neighborhoods with parks.  We thank the Governor and many partners who have made this vision a reality.”

“This nine-mile park will make a huge difference to New Jersey’s overburdened communities that are extremely vulnerable to increasing heat waves due to the urban heat island effect. The extreme difference in heat wave temperatures makes heat related illnesses and death a major concern,” said Tobias Fox, Founder and Managing Director of Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc. “This historic investment will help close the gap for overburdened communities, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation and relief for thousands of New Jerseyans.”

“Without question, this deal underscores all the merits of public-private partnerships and strategic land protection in one package. This Greenway project will make it easier for millions of people to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors, completely transforming the way communities connect with nature and connect with each other, linking people to parks, waterways and their neighbors,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “This once-in-a-generation opportunity will soon become reality and OSI could not be prouder of the role we played to negotiate the deal, bring stakeholders together, and generate public and private support for the initiative.”

“The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) applauds Governor Murphy and The Essex Hudson Greenway Project for making this dream of a nine mile open space opportunity a reality,” said Jennifer Coffey, Executive Director, ANJEC. “The newly preserved Greenway will provide up to a million people with increased access to green space, and it will help soothe the impacts of the climate crisis by providing new stormwater management and green infrastructure opportunities.   It will be both an environmental and economic boon for residents and provide health and safety benefits.  We strongly encourage that all Environmental Commissions in the impacted communities have a seat at the table while planning out this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“Preserving this important 9-mile corridor, and creating a green swath through these densely developed communities is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” said Jay Watson, Senior Director for Statewide Land Protection & Community Relations at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “Keeping this corridor intact will provide enormous opportunities for public recreation and alternatives to automobile-dependent transportation.  Once completed, this public asset will have immeasurable public health benefits for future generations and enhance real estate values along its route.  We congratulate Governor Murphy and all of the partners and advocates for seizing on this remarkable opportunity.”

KIG will continue to fight for open space throughout New Jersey no matter the zip code.