MONTCLAIR, NJ — A plan to build a hiking and bicycling path from Montclair to Jersey City recently took a big leap forward.
Last week, the Open Space Institute announced that it reached a tentative deal to buy an abandoned railway line in Hudson and Essex counties from the Georgia-based Norfolk Southern Railway Company.
According to the nonprofit, the agreement sets the stage for the creation of nearly nine miles of parkland that will benefit walkers, bikers, birders and nature lovers, as well as New Jersey-to-New York City commuters.
The “linear park” project, which has been dubbed as the Essex-Hudson Greenway Project, would traverse through Jersey City, Secaucus, Kearny, Newark, Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge and Montclair. It would span an average of 100 feet wide or more.
Read the nonprofit’s full statement and see a map of the proposed trail here.
According to the Open Space Institute, Norfolk Southern recently started the process of filing for formal federal approval to sell the property.
“After nearly two years of working directly with Norfolk Southern, we are very proud to announce this agreement,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute.
“This agreement represents a once in a generation opportunity to acquire property that can become a working green space for the people of these communities,” Elliman said.
In addition to the Open Space Institute, other stakeholders in the project include the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance. The Open Space Institute’s efforts to create the Essex-Hudson Greenway is being supported by the Thomas L. Kempner Jr. Foundation.
Other local groups, such as the Bloomfield Open Space Trust Fund and the Friends of the Ice & Iron Trail have also advocated for the proposed trail.
The nonprofit didn’t include details about the purchase price in a statement about the pending deal. But during a meeting of the Montclair Town Council last month, Township Manager Tim Stafford said the Open Space Institute has a one-year option to purchase the property for $65 million, NorthJersey.com reported.
The tentative purchase agreement is the first step of many, which will likely take years, including planning, surveying and conducting environmental assessments. But it’s also a “substantial” leap forward for the project, its supporters say.
“This linear park has been a working project for our organization since 2014,” said Debra Kagan, executive director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition.
“While this is only the first step of many, we are excited to continue working with the Open Space Institute, our supporters, and the communities to ensure that this project becomes a fully functional greenway for those along its route,” Kagan said.
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