EPA recognizes Newark park on ex-industrial site as 'smart growth'

By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on September 22, 2015

Riverfront Park in Newark in a 2013 file photo.


NEWARK — Riverfront Park – the stretch of land in the city that was converted from a former industrial site to a community open space – is a creative project that simultaneously protects the environment and enhances the area's economy. That's according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which recently awarded Newark its "Smart Growth Achievement" award for its work on the project.

The city was one of three across the country recognized with the 2015 award, which the EPA says is meant to support communities that use "innovative policies."

"As part of our commitment to help communities grow in ways that protect the environment and support local goals, EPA is pleased to recognize the winners," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a release about the award.

"The smart growth strategies behind this year's award winners are making a visible difference in their communities, and they provide models that can guide and inspire many others."

Riverfront Park, which is about 16 acres with plans to expand, was developed on previously contaminated land along the Passaic River. The $25 million first phase of the project opened in 2012, and a second phase expanding the park could start as early as next year, officials have said.

The project was completed with a combination of public and donated funding, and in partnership with the Trust for Public Land and county park's department.

"The City of Newark is committed to developing a sustainable city," Newark Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson said in the release.

"Newark's Riverfront Park shows that a public and private partnership can work together to build healthy economies, strong neighborhoods and open space for our community."

Other winners of the award this year were the Jackson Walk in Jackson, Tenn., which was revitalized after being destroyed by tornadoes, and three mixed use projects in Hamilton, Ohio that won for being created via a public-private partnership between the city and a developer.

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