BAYONNE, NJ- With bright sun and blue skies, along with a temperature in the 70s, Gov. Phil Murphy couldn’t have picked a better day to allow the parks in Hudson County to reopen.
On Friday Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise announced that along with Stephen R. Gregg Park, Lincoln Park in Jersey City, West Hudson Park in Kearny, James J. Braddock Park in North Bergen, and Laurel Hill Park in Secaucus were also to open, and would remain that way as long as park goers adhered to the now well-known social distancing guidelines.
"We really need to act like adults right now as we take these baby steps towards recovery," warned De Gise, "Please social distance and wear a mask."
Dozens of people flocked to the paths at Stephen R. Gregg Park in Bayonne. While many wore masks, most did not – since it was not mandated.
“We’d like to help them stay healthy and would like them to wear masks,” said one of the county workers who was busy posting signs with the new rules regulating park use. “But they all seem to be keeping social distance.”
“These are just common-sense things,” he said, asking not to be named. “Just so that people stay safe.
The 97.5 acre park, also known as Bayonne Park, was originally designed by Charles N. Lowrie, landscape architect for the Hudson County Parks Department. In some places the waterfront space strongly resembles sections of Central Park in New York City – complete with tunnels under one of its inner roadways that connect the upper level with the lower level of the park.
On Saturday people strolled walking paths or cut through the banks of trees, some with dogs, others in couples, but there were no large crowds to be seen.
Among those was Cheryl Bulvid, a resident of Bayonne since 1965, who told TAPinto that until the park closed she came here every day, walking her dog, Oddie. “When the park was closed, I had to make do with where I could go,” she said.
For Bulvid, who is disabled a result of an injury to her arm, and busy taking care of her father, who just turned 91, the park serves as a bit of outdoor relief.
Bulvid, did a little socializing with dogs of other walkers in the park, and wanted to go to the dog run, which remained closed, so stuck to the footpaths, but took advantage of her knowledge of some of the intricate details of the passive space
“That’s double hill over there,” she said, pointing to a section of the park just south of the park’s great staircase. “Suicide hill is over there.” She pointed to the west at a steep section which won its name for the daring feats of kids on snow sleds in winter.
“My kids are grown now, so I don’t go there anymore,” she said.
The park is divided into halves, east and west. Midway down the western half is a small pond. “The county just installed three sprinklers in the pond,” Bulvid said. “I can’t wait to see them. I hope they are lit up with colored lights.”
The pond turned out to be a big attraction to many kids as box turtles crowded the top of one of the rocks taking in the sun. Although nearly all the park’s sports facilities were closed including the ballfields and tennis courts, the track remained open and a few hearty souls jogged around it, as did the waterfront walkway.
For his part, Murphy would use some of this daily briefing Saturday to also urge residents to limit "knucklehead behavior" so that parks could remain open and New Jersey could keep moving towards a more complete reopening.
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