Jersey City is planning a big bash for the grand opening of the long-awaited Berry Lane Park, a project that not only repurposes formerly abandoned properties but may be transformative for the neighborhood as well.
The project, located in the city’s Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood just steps from the Garfield Avenue Light Rail station, has taken about 17 acres of property that was once rail facilities, junk yards, and auto repair shops and morphed it into usable recreational space for residents. The park, which cost a total of $35 million, now features two basketball courts, two tennis courts, a baseball field, a soccer field and a playground, among other amenities.
On June 25th, the city will host a free and open to the public ribbon-cutting and family day to celebrate the park’s debut featuring food, music and activities for children. The festivities should be an especially sweet moment for those involved in planning and building the park, who have endured a long journey to see it through.
Part of the property the park lies on once housed a chromium processing plant operated by PPG Industries, who needed to remove 700,000 tons of hazardous waste from the sites before the DEP allowed proper construction to commence on the park in 2012.
Despite that unfortunate history, the park will actually reuse some aspects of the land’s past. Existing concrete silos on the property, remnants of a former rail yard, will be outfitted with spraying mechanisms and serve as a spray park for children.
In the future, a skate park, pavilion and concessions area with restrooms are planned for the final phase of the project, which the city hopes to complete by year’s end. The skate park will be approximately 12,000 square feet and received a $25,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation.
The city says the park’s completion will result in 635 new trees being planted and a 9% increase in the amount of useable open space in Jersey City. It will also be a feather in the cap to the neighborhood, which can boast of having the city’s largest (and newest) municipal park.
The park also has the potential to spur neighborhood revitalization, as green spaces tend to drive development and increase property values. While Bergen-Lafayette does have big swaths of single family homes in addition to redeveloped areas like the Lafayette Gardens townhomes, there are also post-industrial and vacant parcels that dot the landscape. As development in Jersey City heads west, Berry Lane Park’s presence may make those properties more attractive to developers.
Signs of redevelopment life around the park include the recently opened Baker Building, which is within walking distance. Just across the light rail tracks from Berry Lane Park lies the Canal Crossing Redevelopment Area, a land parcel currently undergoing an environmental remediation under the supervision of the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency. Two other projects at 312 Pacific Avenue and 424 Whiton Street are also in the works.
Whatever the future holds in terms of development, current residents can look forward to making use of the brand new green space later this month.
[gmap height=”250px”]1000 Garfield Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07304[/gmap]
Berry Lane Park – 1000 Garfield Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07304