It was all Orange on damp Saturday morning, Newark Walks a celebratory march from the steps of City Hall to Newark’s Park expansion along the Passaic River waterfront. The festivities, starting at 11:30, with residence from across the city and the region to stroll 1.5 miles to the riverfront park, a collaboration between Newark and Essex County newest Open space iniatitive.
For years the Passaic River has been plagued by an Industrial age that has now gone, leaving a non-utilized cesspool of polluted slug and contaminant. But over the course of 30 years community activism, along with effective planning, has moved Newark closer to other industrial cities like Chicago, Detroit and Boston reclaiming the waterfronts. Saturday was a commination of hard work tenacity and a new vision to return Newark’s natural resources to the public.
Newark Riverfront Revival (NRR), an initiative lead by Damon Rich, artist, and currently serves as the Urban Designer for the City of Newark of the Newark Planning Office, aims to revive Newark’s riverfront to bring concrete benefits to the City of Newark and its residents.
Since 2008, NRR has built support for Newark’s riverfront by taking hundreds of people on boat and walking tours, hosting outreach events, organizing design education programs for youth, and staging a City Hall exhibition. In 2012, in partnership with the County of Essex and the Trust for Public Land, Newark’s first segment of Riverfront Park opened to the public with over twelve acres of athletic fields, playgrounds, and walking paths. This past week represented the second park segment, containing a walking and biking trail, floating boat dock, riverfront boardwalk, and other settings for relaxation, picnics, exercise, and environmental education.
After a rainy start the program went on as scheduled with a warm welcome from Newark Mayor, Cory Booker and comments from Essex County’ Executive, Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. What followed was a large line-up diverse programming. Step dancers, spoken word artists, a jazz band, Brazilian capoeira stas, face painters, Double Dutch jumpers, Zumba and yoga, arts & crafts, face painting, kite flying, Sewer-in-a-Suitcase and other environmental education games, a drum circle, and more! Performance Featuring Newark talent & culture including electric jazz/R&B band the Melectrix, dance group Dynamic Dynasty, traditional music and dance from Brazil, Ecuador, and Portugal, Brazilian martial artists Grupo Libertade, and Newark Youth Idol winners.
We asked Damon his taught on the opening. “I felt empowered; this opening represents a 30-year struggle, of advocacy for more open space in a very dense section of Newark. This represents the best of Newark, this celebration is inclusive, it represented all wards of Newark, It was critically important that this space represent and reflect all of Newark. It mosaic of people all coming together. It is great to see, a plan come together, and the next phases are moving ahead to connect this new section to the existing park in the Ironbound and creating a pedestrian pathway form this park to the North ward pass Clay Street.
From this park emerges a new downtown skylight. In addition top the boat docking; the attractive lighting the new park features a doc for boats, various lighting and modern aluminum seating. Water elements are soothing and calming, we now have this reclaimed asset returned to the citizen. In further news, Wednesday the city council approved and voted on changes to zoning along the waterfront. Now incorporating any future development along the waterfront most preserve access to the public preserving this once great assets back to the residences of this great city
This Saturday, get on the water with Newark Boat Tours!
Buy your tickets today for a Newark Boat Tour! Tours travel 7 miles of Newark’s riverfront, exploring its dramatic past and how Newarkers are shaping its future. Tickets must be purchased in advance. General tickets are $15, Newark residents are $5. For reservation information, email Newark Riverfront Revival or call Riverfront Coordinator Chris Caceres at (201) 563-2834 with the date and time of the tour you’d like. Organized by Newark Riverfront Revival.
Upcoming Newark Riverfront Boat Tours
Saturday, August 17 9:30 am–12:30 pm and 11:30 am–2:30 pm
Saturday, August 24 9:30 am–12:30 pm and 11:30 am–2:30 pm
Saturday, August 31 9:30 am–12:30 pm and 11:30 am–2:30 pm