During an open house at Liberty State Park on Wednesday, May 24, Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette, joined by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Matthew W. Luzzatto, shared plans to advance a multi-phase revitalization program for the park, with an initial groundbreaking anticipated by early fall.
Building on two years of public engagement and extensive design engineering work , the revitalization program is a multiple phase effort led by the DEP to clean up, restore, and enhance natural resources; improve and expand access to open space; increase public recreation offerings through the addition of athletics facilities; bring public arts, cultural, and community spaces into the park; improve transportation to and within the park; and build greater resilience to flooding and climate change through nature-based solutions.
The end result of this phased approach will be a Liberty State Park that features active recreational, arts and cultural development across more than 100 acres of its perimeter, and an open space and passive recreational central park at its heart that will provide flood resilience benefits to the surrounding developed features as well as to the host community. Detailed information about the revitalization phases is included on DEP’s Liberty State Park Revitalization Program microsite.
“Liberty State Park is a treasure that will always belong to the people of New Jersey,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Our Administration’s plan prioritizes protecting our precious public lands and revitalizes Liberty State Park through exciting new amenities for the community, including new ways to enjoy nature, play sports, engage in active and passive recreation, and experience arts and culture. The proposal will also improve transportation to and within the park and include long-term improvements to enhance flood and climate resiliency. I would like to thank Commissioner LaTourette and his team at the Department of Environmental Protection for engaging in a robust and thorough public engagement process that puts the needs of the community first.”
“Liberty State Park is one of the crown jewels of our state park system—rich with history and full of opportunity,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “My DEP colleagues and I are excited to share the next steps in revitalizing this incredible park, and more importantly, to deliver transformative improvements that better serve the needs of New Jersey residents, and especially our host community in Jersey City, while also enhancing our natural environment and promoting greater flood and climate resilience.”
At the open house, DEP staff presented detailed renderings of the engineered design of many elements of the interior section and a video presentation that simulates the expected visitor experience of these improvements.
“With valuable feedback from thousands of members of the public who have participated in prior engagement sessions, DEP is making progress on improvements at Liberty State Park that provide exciting new spaces for visitors to play sports, enjoy nature, picnic and host community events,” said John Cecil, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Parks, Forests & Historic Sites. “The goal of the Liberty State Park Revitalization Program is to enact an integrated strategy to better serve the visiting public and nearby communities, restore and enhance natural resources, honor the park’s history and celebrate our diverse culture.”
“By restoring the interior of Liberty State Park, we are not only enhancing the natural beauty and recreational opportunities within the park, but also strengthening resilience to flooding and providing ample chances for the public to engage with nature and enjoy stunning views of the park amenities and the surrounding cities,” said Elizabeth Dragon, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Community Investment & Economic Revitalization. “This project exemplifies our commitment to achieving a more sustainable and livable future for all New Jerseyans.”
DEP will share its schedule for revitalization program activities over the next year, which will include multiple points of continued public engagement. Feedback from the public will be used to inform further design work by DEP.
The phases of the revitalization program include:
Phase 1A: Cleanup, Restoration, and Resilience (Interior Area)
Cleanup of 230+ acres long closed to the public due to legacy industrial contamination;
Ecological restoration and construction of nature-based solutions that serve critical flooding and climate resilience functions for the community;
Reintroduce native tidal and non-tidal wetlands, meadows, and urban forest ;
Create hilltop scenic overlooks with NJ/NY harbor and skyline views;
All features bound together in a 5.6-mile walking and running trail network;
Includes cleanup at the site of the future Southern Athletics Hub, which will be planned concurrent to the remediation for development following cleanup.
Phase 1B: Immediate Active Recreation, Arts and Culture Improvements (Northern Area)
Near-term development of public amenities along the Audrey Zapp Drive corridor, e., from Jersey Avenue to the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CRRNJ) Terminal Building;
Create the Northern Athletics Hub for public outdoor active recreation amenities, including multi-purpose athletic fields and support facilities;
Rehabilitate and repurpose historic CRRNJ train sheds as covered outdoor public community space and marketplace;
Develop arts and cultural spaces, including public outdoor amphitheater with harbor/skyline backdrop;
Add community center, playgrounds, concessions, and other public gathering spaces;
Evaluate and begin transportation and internal circulation improvements.
Phase 2: Holistic Master Plan (Southern & Waterfront Areas + Parkwide Integration)
Assess opportunities and plan improvements for southern (Morris Pesin Drive Corridor) and waterfront (Freedom Way Corridor);
Create Southern Athletics Hub to complement Phase 1B recreation amenities with specific elements selected through public process;
Public athletics could include track and field center, integrated multi-use fields, basketball courts, racquet courts, skate park, or other amenities;
Evaluate feasibility of potential community pool, aquatics center, community gardens;
Integrate elements of earlier phases into holistic parkwide network;
Develop long-term parking solutions.