By BRENDAN W. GILL
Special at Montclair Local
Recently, I had the long-awaited and long-awaited opportunity to stand alongside Governor Phil Murphy and a coalition of elected officials, community leaders and civic organizations, as the Governor announced that the State of New Jersey would purchase the land on which the Essex-Hudson Greenway – a 9-mile, 100-foot-wide linear park and shared-use trail connecting Montclair to Jersey City – would be created.
Over 10 years ago, I first heard about what was then called the Iron and Ice Trail and I committed to making this idea a reality.
When complete, the Essex-Hudson Greenway will pass through eight municipalities in Essex and Hudson counties and will become the newest addition to our state park system. It will connect Montclair to surrounding neighborhoods, strengthen our local activities, and provide much-needed transportation alternatives and new commuting options to our residents.
In the words of the governor, the greenway will be “a crown jewel in our state park system and one of the top five developments” of his tenure as governor.
However, we still have a long way to go. We cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball or wait another 10 years before we can deliver the essential benefits of this project to our communities. We need to be meticulous in our planning on issues ranging from storm water overflow and flood mitigation to trail safety and maintenance.
As with all large companies, these developments would not have been possible without the contributions of key partners, supporters and stakeholders. I thank the Open Space Institute, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, the National September 11 Memorial Trail, local businesses and environmental leaders, biking and walking enthusiasts, civic groups, religious organizations, advocates of public health and hundreds of supporting entities for their leadership. and hard work in support of this transformative legacy project.
Additionally, according to President Joe Biden’s recently signed $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, the Green Lane will serve as a model for future environmentally friendly infrastructure projects across the country. He will embody the focus on ‘building back better’ on our nation, especially as we improve our infrastructure, provide new opportunities for small businesses and recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Essex-Hudson Green Lane will improve the economy and the health of our communities in the short term and deliver untold benefits to the environment and to future generations. It will be a game-changing historic infrastructure project that allows New Jersey to take its place as a leader in the national movement towards environmental responsibility and the promotion of a healthier lifestyle.
I remain as determined to bring this project to fruition as I was 10 years ago, and look forward to continuing my work toward another big day in New Jersey’s future – opening this historic greenway.
Brendan W. Gill is a longtime resident of Montclair, a board member of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and a commissioner general of the Essex County Board of Commissioners.
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