In Brief

Liberty State Park plan calls for cleanup of contamination, expanded recreation

By: - May 25, 2023 9:21 am

State officials presented plans this week to revitalize Liberty State Park, New Jersey's busiest park. Groundbreaking is set for the fall. (Danielle P. Richards for New Jersey Monitor)

State officials unveiled a development plan Wednesday for Liberty State Park that will add sports fields and facilities, improve transportation to and around the park, and remediate and open a contaminated, 235-acre plot at the park’s center that has never been open to the public.

The plan comes almost a year after advocates unsuccessfully fought legislation they feared would open the park — New Jersey’s most popular, with 5 million visitors a year — to commercialization.

The three-phase revitalization plan revealed this week, though, focused on improvements advocates rallied around, like expanding passive and active recreation in the park and adopting “nature-based solutions” to reduce flooding, including reintroducing wetlands, meadows, and an urban forest to the site.

“These features will not only boost the park’s biodiversity but also enhance its capacity to combat climate change and flooding. This project serves as a beacon for sustainable development,” New York District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Matthew W. Luzzatto said in a statement.

Groundbreaking is expected by early fall. The park, which opened in 1976 in Jersey City, overlooks the New York Harbor.

State officials presented plans this week to revitalize Liberty State Park in Jersey City. (Image courtesy of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection)

The first phase will include cleaning up the 235-acre interior, reintroducing wetlands, meadows, and urban forests, creating hilltop scenic overlooks with harbor and skyline views, connecting everything by 5.6 miles of walking and running trails, and cleaning up a 50-acre portion of the park’s southern side where sports fields and facilities are planned.

After that, a second phase of redevelopment will target the park’s north side. Planned improvements there include:

  • Creating athletic fields and facilities.
  • Rehabilitating the park’s historic train sheds to create a covered outdoor public community space and marketplace.
  • Developing arts and cultural spaces, including a public outdoor amphitheater.
  • Adding a community center, playgrounds, concessions, and other public gathering spaces.

A third phase would focus on improving parking and building athletic fields and facilities in the park’s southern end, which could include a track and field center, multi-use fields, basketball and racquetball courts, a skate park, community gardens, and a community pool or aquatics center.

Advocates applauded the plan for the 1,122-acre waterfront park.

“Protecting Liberty State Park is an investment in our urban communities that have historically been deprived of green spaces and recreation,” said Allison McLeod, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters policy director. “In addition to the new community gathering spaces, cultural programs, and key safeguards against flooding, we are glad to see protection for critical nature preserves like Caven Point.”


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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.