By JoAnne Castagna
NEWARK, NJ — For the first time in 100 years, the residents of Newark have access to their Passaic River waterfront. This is due in large part to a construction project being performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, that’s restoring the river bank with a new bulkhead wall designed to prevent the shoreline from eroding.
“It’s interesting that something as simple as a bulkhead can be the kickoff of a riverfront redevelopment project for the city of Newark, becoming a key feature in the revitalization of Newark’s downtown,” project manager Jason Shea said.
For more than a century, the banks of the Passaic River have been abandoned because the shoreline was eroding and the river was filled with trash and plagued with contamination from one of the state’s largest toxic waste sites.
The community has been wanting a riverfront park to revitalize the waterfront area and the work the Army Corps is doing is laying the foundation for their plans.
The Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the city of Newark, is performing the Joseph G. Minish Passaic River Waterfront Park and Historic Area Project. The project encompasses almost 2 miles and more than 30 acres of land along the west bank of the Passaic River between Bridge and Brill streets in Newark.
The Army Corps is overseeing the construction of 6,000 feet of new bulkhead along the river, which entails restoring 3,200 feet of riverbank, constructing a 9,200-foot waterfront walkway and creating landscaping using native plants. In addition, it’s also establishing park facilities, plazas, walking and biking paths, playgrounds, and baseball and soccer fields.
Shea said that revitalization work like this has proved successful in other cities, such as San Antonio, Texas; Chicago, Ill.; and Portland, Ore., just to name a few.
“The Newark waterfront is already starting to show redevelopments where work has been performed and also on the opposite side of the river in Harrison,” Shea said. “These developments will have views of the waterfront park, rather than a rundown streambank with a dilapidated bulkhead, trapping trash and debris. It’s a great example of how the benefits of this project are extending regionally, outside Newark city limits.
“The park brings a welcoming feel to the area, leading to investments in commercial and residential properties,” he added. “It’s been great to see this happening over the past two decades in Newark.”
The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2023.
Photos Courtesy of USACE