East Newark Waterfront Park will create a public destination on the banks of the Passaic River for the East Newark community grounded in social uplift, environmental justice, and ecological restoration. These foundational design principles are very foreign to East Newark, the second-smallest municipality in New Jersey, which historically had nearly 25% of its land mass devoted to two thread mills along the Passaic River. The East Newark Waterfront Park site sits on the former Clark Thread Company’s wharf, once the world’s leading manufacturer of sewing thread, and owes its polluted condition to this industrial past. By transforming this space into a clean, safe, accessible green oasis, East Newark’s park space by land mass will increase from 1% to 8% and community access to its waterfront will be restored for the first time in over 150 years. The East Newark Waterfront Park design features a commitment to sustainable design strategies providing a synergistic relationship between restored ecological systems and increased opportunity for community programming. The nature-based design addresses 15 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Together these ideas inspire a series of public spaces set within a diverse collection of biodiverse, native waterfront habitat zones to create an engaging new waterfront experience for the community. A result of a national, innovative, and precedent-setting agreement, the project addresses injuries to natural resources from decades of industrial contamination through design strategies emphasizing the diversification of natural habitats and restored ecosystems along the Passaic River. The park design supports a variety of community-focused programming with active uses including a programmable plaza space, playground and great lawn gathering area in the southern zone, and passive uses including a woodland amphitheater with stage, landform features with walking trails and lookout points in the northern zone. The universally accessible park also includes a 1,000-foot-long riverfront boardwalk allowing visitors to explore the shoreline and enjoy a connection to their waterfront as a part of East Newark’s first and only waterfront park. Stormwater management is integrated into the overall design through a series of rain gardens to improve water quality, reduce flood risk, and provide native plantings and habitats. Climate resiliency features provide added community benefit and include a waterfront floodwall (protecting park features from high frequency, low intensity flood events) and a higher, continuous resiliency berm designed and graded into the center of the full length of the park (providing additional flood protection to the community beyond from less frequent, high intensity flood events).


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