Jersey City Opens Renovated Riverview Park, Breaks Ground on Reservoir #3 Restoration

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The year-long renovation of Riverview-Fisk Park in The Heights was unveiled last weekend. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

The Heights has spent the last few years becoming one of Jersey City’s hottest neighborhoods and officials recently celebrated both the conclusion of a greenery revitalization and the beginning of another.


Over the weekend, dignitaries held a ribbon cutting to unveil the revamped Riverview-Fisk Park. Jersey City’s council approved a $2 million contract to overhaul the space in January last year and the work kicked off two months later.

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89 new trees were planted as part of the park’s overhaul. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that shortly followed the groundbreaking, the renovation finished only two months behind schedule. The biggest additions to the park are a centrally located ornamental fountain and a new spray pad that was installed near the existing playground.

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The new spray pad with a view. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

Several monuments in the park were restored during the project including a memorial to Henry Hudson that dates to 1917. A long-neglected Bocce court near the cliffside was completely reconstructed and includes a prefabricated shade structure, while new furnishings, decorative iron fencing, gates, a hydration station, and 89 trees were installed throughout the space.

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The restored memorial to Henry Hudson. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.
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The brand new Bocce court. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

Some less obvious work was performed underneath the park consisting of new foundations, conduits, water lines, drainage lines, and site grading. The park itself is well over a century old and was built on land that was gifted to Jersey City by Aaron Ogden, who served as both a United States senator and the governor of New Jersey during the early 1800s.

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New water fountain and fill station. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

“Especially in times like these with the pandemic over the last year, we realize now more than ever how important parks and open space is for a city,” Mayor Steve Fulop said during the ceremony. “This is why we continue to invest in improvements to parks citywide.”

Just a bit west of Riverview Park, officials also held a groundbreaking on a project that will restore Reservoir #3. Located next to Pershing Field between Reservoir and Jefferson avenues, the 14-acre facility was completed in 1874 to provide drinking water for city residents and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Mayor Steven Fulop, officials, and dignitaries attended the groundbreaking of the $6 million revitalization of Reservoir #3 in The Heights. Photo courtesy Jersey City.

We were the first news outlet to report on the formal restoration plans last year, which weren’t without controversy. A spat broke out between officials and the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance over the changes, which the nonprofit referred to as “ill-conceived” in a Facebook post as recently as last month.

The alliance even held a meeting on March 25 outlining their objections and alternatives to the proposal but have since softened their stance, with some members attending the groundbreaking. The nonprofit says the city agreed to several changes that will protect trees and vegetation at the site that include the use of traditional lampposts instead of bollard lights.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the City to ensure the community is a major part of the conversation about finally opening this urban oasis and national landmark,” the group said.

The first phase of the work calls for the stabilization and preservation of the original Romanesque pump houses. An existing dirt path around the reservoir will be expanded from 18 inches to 48 inches wide throughout the length of the trail, which will significantly expand public access for those with limited mobility and families with strollers.

Later portions of the construction call for a terraced wetland garden near the northwest corner of the space, which is slated to include areas for fishing, water access, and a kayak launch ramp. Documentation released by Jersey City additionally calls for the construction of a proper boathouse and restroom along with the restoration of the 20-foot-high Egyptian Revival walls that surround the reservoir.

The Hudson County Open Space Trust is contributing $1 million towards the project, while the New Jersey Historic Trust is chipping in $750,000. Over $884,000 from the state’s Green Acres program is being put towards trail development and Jersey City’s Open Space Trust will be adding $400,000 to the endeavor. Jersey City will be matching every dollar obtained through the grants, which brings the total investment to $6 million.

The work will necessitate the Reservoir’s closure during the upcoming summer months, but residents can look forward to visiting the improved space in 2022.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Contractors did a great job on the upgrades- lots of additional lighting, excellent concrete work with lots strategically placed expansion joints, almost 100 new trees to replace the diseased ones, new benches, etc. In fact everything seems restored to the original park plans………..and therein lies the problem. What the result is basically amounts to a 2 acre dog run for animal lovers and their lovely pets. There is no landscaping whatsoever. No shrubs, no plants, no garden feature, no rock formations, no art or architectural point of interest. Just a flat expanse newly seeded lawns and trees. And a bocce court. Gotta have bocce- never mind all the old Italian guys have been replaced by our wonderful multi-cultural citizens who wouldn’t know bocce balls from a plate of Renato’s meatballs. These are, perhaps, minor issues. The park is neat, clean, tidy and sanitized, for now.

    My main objection is the seating which is silly beyond belief. All the great parks old and new, from Washington Sq to the Highline have tons of benches or modern seatings units at varying levels (my preference). RFP has single benches at maybe 35 to 40 feet apart some of which face the traffic, commuter vans, and rubbishy old buildings along Palisade Ave. The real shame, in my view, is that the rinky dink fountain ($70k, I’m told) could have been placed away from the central axis of the park and instead a promenade and ,most importantly, a BANDSHELL (at the edge of Palisade Ave) could have been constructed. Fulop is always banging on about the arts, the arts, the arts including the new arts property tax surcharge but at the end of the day the taxpayer gets a bocce court and the same old, same old. JC on the cheap, nobody does it better.

  2. Thanks for doing these features on the parks, it’s great to see updates and plans on non-development items as well as they all contribute to the city. I agree with XTC they could have done more with the design but it still looks pretty nice, and 89 new trees isn’t terrible.

    The bocce court is very confusing though and looks huge, surely there was a more creative use of that space.

  3. It’s good to be the king! Fulop continues to dump more funds in his backyard so he can continue to see his house on Ogden value skyrocket. Definitely a nice benefit for the heights residents but sucks for the rest of the city (outside downtown).

    Bergen Hill park got a measly 200k and zero work has been done on it. They could literally renovate that in one weekend. Lafayette Park is a neglected charming park that’s covered with bums and geese shit. It has a water park that looks like something from the 60s and everything is dated. Arlington Park is another potential beauty that is a complete disaster with crack heads taking a crap in the bushes and overall looks like a homeless shelter.

    But in less than a year Fulop completed a $2 million renovation at his local park and already broke ground on another massive renovation a few blocks away. I mean isn’t it just too obvious? Might be time for a new crook in office, this ones head is getting way to big for his body.

  4. Doubt if Riverview is going to make anyone’s property value *skyrocket.* Property values have more to do with supply and demand than anything else. JC, aside from downtown, had been behind the curve for decades up until maybe 3 or 4 years ago. A cosmetic rehab of a very old park and a very small one at that is nothing special unless one regards a pissy little fountain as the equivalent of visiting the Place de la Concorde in Paris. I’m not in the real estate business but a new 3 bedroom unit with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the park and with a view of the Manhattan skyline is almost a bargain at under a million dollars. That amount of money gets you a studio with a Murphy bed in NYC.

    As for Reservoir # 3, that’s been in the pipeline for over 20 years and received it’s historic designation, and subsequent funding, due to the work of community groups. It would be a unique and extraordinary urban site anywhere, but to have a decommissioned reservoir with a 30 year old forest as a public park in JC Heights is beyond amazing. Given it’s size it’s going to be hard for the City to fuck this one up. Thank god they got rid of the douchey bollard lighting. Hopefully everything will be kept as natural and as raw as possible.

  5. WHO PUT THOSE HIDEOUS SIGNS ALONG THE THE GRASS LINES?? “STAY ON THE PATHWAY” “CURB YOUR DOG”.THEY SPENT A WEEK ON RAKING,CLEANING UP DEBRI AND LEAVES.AN MOWING THE LAWNS…ONLY TO FIND YOU CAN’T WALK ON THE GRASS??? IS THIS A “CITY PARK” OR A LAWN EXHIBIT????

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