BAYONNE, NJ - It’s what’s on the inside that counts. That was the message from Mayor Jimmy Davis Wednesday as he, members of the Bayonne City Council, and others officially broke ground on what will be the $2.1 million upgrade of Francis G. Fitzpatrick Park.

Included in the plans are the construction of a new splash park area, a roller hockey rink, a basketball court, a patio area with picnic tables and game tables, a bike rack, and drinking fountains for people and pets. There are also plans for new playgrounds for both younger and older children along with “lighting and landscaping improvements.” 

Even with all of these amenities, which Davis said were in and of themselves significant, as well as another reminder that redevelopment is more than new buildings, it’s the underground infrastructure, funded primarily by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and something residents will never see, that will really be impactful for the blocks leading to Bayonne City Hall.

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Davis explained that a retention basin to be constructed below the ground will hold 300,000 gallons of storm water, diverting the runoff from at least 12 street level storm drains and allowing it flow out slowly, preventing local flooding and sewer backups. This, he said, is a significant step towards complying with new state regulations related to the city’s decades old combined sewer system.

“This is about building new parks and solving a decades old problem,” Davis said.

On hand for the event for First Ward Councilman Neil Carroll who said the project “breaks the mold” from others in Bayonne and is one he hopes to see replicated at Cottage Park which is in an area prone to flooding. “This is going to dramatically improve flooding problems in our city,” he predicted. 

With a career in law enforcement behind him Davis offered a reminder that the site is of historical significance as it marks where, in 1933, the Bayonne Police Department initiated regular two-way communications with its patrol cars, allowing police officers to communicate with headquarters and other on duty vehicles, instead of simply receiving radio bulletins, the first of its kind in the nation. 

City officials said the park will be reopened for families by Spring 2021.

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