The Washington Park Association (WPA), the “volunteer stewards” of Washington Park near the Union City/Jersey City border, will now be working with Union City and the Hudson County Parks Department on a design for a proposed multi-purpose synthetic turf field there.
Union City has taken the WPA’s “green design” and sustainability features into consideration to “fulfill the greatest community need while having the least possible impact on surrounding towns and ecosystems,” according to a Jan. 21 press release by the WPA.
The proposed field will be funded through a $500,000 grant from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund that will be finalized over the next year.
The 21-acre Washington Park is part of the county park system, but the parcel of land known as Park No. 3 is under the stewardship of Union City.
“I am confident that together…we will design a top-notch recreational facility for local children and their families.” – Mory Thomas.
Washington Park and the WPA
Washington Park, which celebrated its 110th anniversary last September, has a long history as a rare green community gathering space within an urban atmosphere.
To date, the park has four ball parks, including two recently installed synthetic fields.
The park, which spans both Jersey City and Union City, is divided into four sections. The Hudson County Park System is responsible for maintaining and planning for three of the four sections of the park. The other section, Park No. 3, was leased in the 1980s for $1 a year by Union City.
To ensure the welfare of the park and park users, the Washington Park Association of Hudson County (WPA), a not-for-profit organization comprised of Jersey City and Union City residents, was founded in 2009.
Its mission is “to work with the community to revitalize, maintain, and protect Washington Park…and to promote its use through the development of programs and activities that enhance the quality of life of park users and local residents.”
‘We want a say’
Last September, the WPA learned that Union City proposed to expand the Cal Ripken Little League baseball field in Park No. 3 to accommodate a multi-purpose synthetic turf field for football, baseball, and soccer with the help of a $500,000 grant from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund. So the WPA wanted to get involved in the design.
The WPA requested a public hearing with the city to address concerns regarding the “compatibility” of the proposed complex, to prevent removal of trees, light and noise pollution, a parking deficit and traffic increase, obstruction of the views, and the reduction of green space.
The WPA has applied for a $100,000 Open Space Trust Fund for the implementation of community gardens, signage, picnic tables, exercise upgrades, and upgrades compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.
Coming to an agreement
The WPA announced last month that it had successfully negotiated with the leadership of Hudson County and Union City to be involved in the renovations.
“Park No. 3 has long been in need of an upgrade,” said WPA President Mory Thomas. “I am confident that together…we will design a top-notch recreational facility for local children and their families that will…serve as a model for other parks in the county.”
What to expect
Already, Union City and Hudson County have agreed to several actions suggested by the WPA to most benefit area residents and park users.
In order to minimize its impact upon an already congested intersection, a study will be conducted on traffic and parking patterns to optimize flow of traffic around the park, and a plan for easy public access to the sports facilities will be devised.
For quality of life issues, the proposed sports field will feature eco-friendly lighting and sound systems that will not infringe upon neighboring homes, a concession stand with healthy and natural food options, and upgrades fully complaint with the ADA.
Options for the proposed facility’s infrastructure, including the synthetic field, water runoff, irrigation, and previous surfaces, will also be explored, and 100 new trees will be planted to replace those removed as part of the field’s expansion.
The WPA will also provide resources and seek advice from outside experts to assist in the design process.
“We recognize that park space and recreational facilities are extremely valuable in our urban setting,” Union City Brian Stack said. “We look forward to providing a premier facility for local residents.”
An integral part of the plan is the formation of a Community Visioning Committee, which will include residents of Union City and Jersey City. The committee will gather input from the community and address local concerns regarding the proposed sports field before the revitalization funding is finalized over the next year.
Deanna Cullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.