BLOOMFIELD, NJ – In a project nearly two decades in the making, Bloomfield held its Groundbreaking Ceremony for the upcoming Lion Gate Municipal Complex on Friday morning, with distinguished guests from New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and county, state and local elected officials.
The long-discussed project will re-purpose the 18.2-acre site of the former Scientific Glass Factory, creating a soccer field, a children’s park and walking paths along Third River.
The project, which Mayor Michael Venezia’s administration has been working to adopt for over three years, will include restoring historic and ecologically important wetlands that will reduce the impact of floods in the area, and the soccer field will feature an underground water draining system.
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The creation of this complex will be one of the largest infrastructure projects in Bloomfield in decades, costing approximately $13.3 million, which includes a $1.7 million Freshwater Wetlands Mitigation Council grant and a $3 million New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection grant.
“We are very excited to break ground on this project that will have tremendous public benefits, like providing much-needed open space and lowering flood insurance rates for nearby residents and businesses,” said Mayor Venezia. “By taking an underutilized parcel of land and turning it into beautiful park and waterfront space to be enjoyed by the public, we are fulfilling our commitment to preserving and enhancing open space. We would not have accomplished this without the efforts of Councilman Nick Joanow, who has advocated for this park for many years, Township Administrator Matthew Watkins, our excellent contractors and environmental experts, and I would like to thank them all.”
Phase One of the project, which includes the wetland construction and plantings, will be completed by September 1, 2019. A maintenance building, concession stand, and Environmental Center are planned as part of Phase Two.
“This amazing project is transforming a Brownsfield site that was unused and an eyesore into open space and recreation facilities that the residents of Bloomfield can enjoy,” said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. “Parks are the lungs of our county and municipalities and creating attractions like this contribute to the physical and social health of our residents, enhance our property values and make our communities more livable. Congratulations to the Mayor, Council and the residents of Bloomfield.”
Also present were State Senators Ron Rice and Teresa Ruiz, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, Essex County Freeholder Carlos Pomares, Councilwoman Jenny Mundell, Councilman Joanow, Councilwoman Sarah Cruz, Councilwoman Nina Davis, Councilman Ted Gamble, Councilman Richard Rockwell, and Bloomfield Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Michael Sceurman.
“Lion Gate is the next generation of green infrastructure projects and it’s happening right here in Bloomfield. This is the real deal and it’s a project that rose up from the community and will now benefit all the residents of Bloomfield for years to come,” said Gregory Remaud, Chief Executive Officer of the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper. “I can’t imagine how much work Matt Watkins and Mayor Venezia did to make this a reality. This is an extraordinary project, and we’re proud to be part of it.”
Over 500 trees and shrubs will be planted in the new wetland with additional trees and shrubs being planted along Lion Gate Drive and in existing woodlands. The selected native plant species all provide important wildlife value such as providing fruit for migratory birds.
“By removing a little over four acres of upland historic fill in this densely developed area and converting it to a functioning floodplain wetland, the project will restore valuable ecological functions, increase flood storage capacity, and enhance wildlife habitat," said Mark Gallagher, Vice President of Princeton Hydro, the ecological engineering firm contracted by Bloomfield.
Mayor Venezia added, “I also want to thank the Department of Environmental Protection and Freshwater Wetlands Mitigation Council for their important grant assistance to help us jump start this complex which will enrich the lives of Bloomfield residents for decades to come.”