North Bergen and Guttenberg passed resolutions and their council meetings last week allowing the two municipalities to enter into a contract for the construction of a waterfront park spanning both communities.
At the Guttenberg Council meeting on April 25 and the North Bergen Commissioners’ meeting held on April 27, identical resolutions were passed that enabled the towns to enter into an interlocal agreement for a joint waterfront park.
The estimated $2.5 million park will include passive open space, a playground, a shaded area, an amphitheatre, a waterfront walkway, rest rooms, and a parking lot. Right now, both towns have secured a combined $1.5 million in funding.
They still would like more funding so they can include an ampitheater.
“I think, as this turned out, this was well worth the wait,” said Guttenberg Mayor Gerald Drasheff. “We could have built the smaller [Guttenberg] park two years ago, but I think this is going to be a much better project, a much more useful park for the residents of both communities.”
Long term in the making
Guttenberg has been pushing for a park along its waterfront for quite some time. In March 2004, the Guttenberg Planning Board turned down an application by K. Hovnanian to develop an acre of townhouses in Guttenberg and eventually purchased the land from the developer for $1.2 million. The funds came from New Jersey Green Acres and the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund.
The town spent years finding more funding to create the town’s first waterfront park, eventually receiving $617,000 more from the above grant programs.
Mayor Gerald Drasheff said the town was ready to move forward with construction until several delays occurred. There was a holdup in getting permit approvals for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Also, the town was attempting to find more grant monies elsewhere.
Then, when the housing market crashed, North Bergen became interested in purchasing a larger parcel of land that K. Hovnanian owned just north of Guttenberg’s parcel, which they successfully did for $1.62 million with the aid of a $1,835,000 grant from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund last year. North Bergen was able to get a lower price since K. Hovnanian would have been responsible for creating a walkway and bulkheads and the rest of the grant funds can now be put toward that.
Recently North Bergen received notice that the New Jersey Green Acres program had awarded them $900,000 to develop their parcel into a park.
The passing of the resolutions this week will allow both communities to pool their resources in creating the park, which will continue the state-mandated waterfront walkway as well (see cover story).
73 and 27 percent
The resolutions also outline that North Bergen and Guttenberg will pay for, maintain, and operate 73 and 27 percent respectively.
“I think it’s a great were having two towns to put their resources and together building something that we don’t have and they don’t have, a waterfront park,” said North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco. “It shows our commitment to the environment, our commitment to open space, and all the towns will save money and have a much better project because of it because we’re sharing the cost.”
Both towns received good news from the DEP, which told them that instead of filing for a new permit for the North Bergen land, they can move forward on a previous one approved for K. Hovnanian, which will save costly application fees.
Pianese said that they hope to find more funding, including possibly from the next round of Green Acres funding, as they continue construction.
If they are unable to find funds, they may have to remove the amphitheatre from the design, but the towns hope this is not the case.
“We both agree regardless of getting future grants we’re going to pursue this,” said Pianese.
For more information on what occurred at both of these meetings, read this week’s news briefs.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.