On the waterfront
Although Hudson County has some of the best views of the New York skyline, parts of the county's waterfront property that runs along the shoreline of the Hudson River are only beginning to develop. Over the next couple of years a new waterfront will be available for the county's residents and visitors. A series of both active and passive parks is planned for the site to complement the parks that already exist throughout the county.
While Hoboken already has a passive recreation area on its Pier A that was built about two years ago in conjunction with the Port Authority's Southern Waterfront Project, the town is discussing an active park and recreation site for its Pier C waterfront location.
This plan, which is still in its conceptual stages, will use $22 million from the Port Authority to include a floating swimming pool that will be semi-permanently housed adjacent to Pier C.
"This project will allow the city to move the pool anywhere along our shoreline," said Michael Korman, the city's public information officer.
The pool will also have a deck, public rest rooms and a concession stand for the public. Other plans for Pier C also include new tennis courts, running areas and open play areas.
Hoboken will also begin construction on Castle Point Park on Hudson Street. This park will include a public walkway and a 125-foot fishing pier with historic benches and lighting fixtures. This will run from Pier A to Sinatra Park.
"Once completed, Hoboken will have the largest percentage of open waterfront access of any city in the state," said Korman.
Weehawken is also beginning to plan both active and passive recreation facilities for its waterfront area. According to the town's mayor, Richard Turner, construction for a new 11-acre active recreation site will begin within the next couple of years.
"This will be the biggest piece of land set aside for recreational use in the township," said Turner.
The town recently purchased a 4.5-acre lot from Hartz Mountain on the waterfront, and another six acres of land adjacent to that property was donated by Arcorp/ Roseland Properties. The developers will construct a 30-foot wide walkway and passive park area connecting the waterfront from Hoboken through Weehawken and West New York. However, while the state requires a 30-foot wide area, Weehawken is planning to add an additional 20 feet to that requirement on its waterfront, which stretches from Baldwin Avenue to 51st Street.
New places to play
While Secaucus does not have a piece of the Hudson River waterfront property, the town is located on the border of the Hackensack River, where the town is planning to launch new areas for canoeing and other types of water activities.
The town has purchased the Old Mill property that was once a restaurant and marina. Together with the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission, the town plans to turn that property into an active environmental park and will begin construction on that park in the spring.
"That property is in a prime location," said the town's superintendent of the Department of Public Works, Michael Gonnelli, explaining that the Mill Creek area, where new channels for canoeing and walking trails have been added, is to the east of the property and the Hackensack River and Secaucus High School is to the west. According to Gonnelli, who is also a commissioner of the HMDC, the Old Mill property will be developed in two phases.
The first phase will include the installation of a launch for non-motorized boats, such as canoes and kayaks, while the second phase will include building an environmental center.
The town has also constructed a new recreation center on Center Avenue that will be used by the public as well as the town's baseball, soccer, cheerleading and basketball teams.
Although the center has not officially opened, the town's baseball teams are already using the indoor batting cages and pitching mounds.
The Applied Companies, who own the Port Liberte property in Jersey City is planning a new site for the golfers in Hudson County. Plans for this 18-hole golf course will brought to the city for approval in the near future. "There are a lot of golfers in Hudson County," said the executive director of the Hudson County Economic Development Corporation, Elizabeth Spinelli. "Now all our middle-agers can be [served] here in Hudson County."
Although this proposal has been met with al lot of questions regarding the environmental concerns of building a golf course, Spinelli said that this project will create many job opportunities for teenagers in the area.
"Youngsters can learn the game, and learn the fine art of networking," said Spinelli, saying teenagers could get caddie jobs at the course.
In Hoboken, too, there will be new recreational activities, and not just on the waterfront. The city will announce the opening of a new park on Second and Adams streets in the coming month. This park, which was funded by a Hudson County Block Grant, includes a roller rink that is already being used by the city's adult roller-hockey league; basketball courts, and a pavilion.
Renovations and restorations
Union City's park and recreation sites are playing a large role in the city's efforts to attract new developers to the city.
"With all of this new interest in Union City," said the city's Commissioner of Parks and Public Property Michael Leggiero, "we need to make the existing infrastructure as nice as possible."
The city has passed a five-year plan to restore all of the existing parks in Union City, with the 11th Street park already undergoing a total renovation. This park is already 70 percent completed, and Leggiero expects the park to be open by spring.
Plans for this park include a central passive area with picnic tables and park benches, a spray pool, and a jungle gym for kids to play on.
"[The park] is going to have an area for people of all ages," said Leggiero. "[We're] trying to maintain existing parks and provide safe and sanitary places for our children to play."
Next on the plan is the 17th Street park. Plans for 17th Street park include adding a sprinkler system for kids to play in and picnic tables for the passive portion of the park. The city has decided to eliminate the basketball courts that were in that area.
"When there isn't enough space to separate the older kids from the younger kids it can get very dangerous," said Leggiero.
Weehawken is also planning to renovate some of its existing parks.
"Repeatedly, about every three years we go back into our parks since they get such heavy use," said Mayor Turner.
This summer, the little tot lot on Highwood Avenue will receive a playground upgrade. The park will receive more modern equipment and new safety padding for the children.
While plans for this upgrade have not been planned to begin yet, Turner said that the town will not close the park during the summer.
West New York's renovation of Washington Park, across from Public School No. 4 on 66th Street, is being completely renovated. The park, which is now designed in levels, will receive a $1.09 million renovation that includes leveling off the property, a new drainage system, and adding a new volleyball court and playground area.
"We will make it as level as best it can be," said the town's commissioner of parks and recreation, Gerald Lange. "Instead of four or five different levels, we are going to make only one or two."
The town expects this park to be ready by early next summer.
Renovations for North Bergen's Little League fields and recreation center have already begun. The town's 76th Street Little League field will receive new batting cages, a new on-deck circle and new fencing.
"We are meeting with the developers on a daily basis to make that field state-of-the art," said North Bergen Commissioner Peter Perez who said that the field will be ready for the spring season.
Months of fun
Besides the recreational activities in the parks, they often host festivals. In the next few months, Jersey City's parks will see some big ones.
Cirque Du Soleil is coming to Jersey City's Liberty State Park from April 4 through May 20. The show, whose international headquarters is located in Montreal, Canada, will perform its third new production, Dralion, in Jersey City. Dralion was created in 1999 and uses ancient Chinese circus traditions.
Ethnic festivals will run in the summer months in Jersey City's parks. Cultural festivals for Indian, Dominican, Korean, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Egyptian, African American and many more will be held.