PERTH AMBOY - In honor of the brave Puerto Rican soldiers of the 65th Infantry Regiment, Perth Amboy officials will be breaking ground on "Borinqueneers Park" on 2nd Street on Friday.

State, county, and city officials alongside residents will mark the construction of the park on a six-acre former brownfield. It will be remediated into a world-class ‘smart’ waterfront park, honoring the Puerto Rican soldiers awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014.

The special speaking guest will be Ervin Machado, PFC of 65th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, a “Borinqueneer.” Speakers will also include state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette, Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-19th Dist.) and Perth Amboy Mayor Helmin J. Caba.

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On April 28, the Perth Amboy City Council passed a resolution to name the site “Borinqueneer Park.” The Borinqueneers are formally known as the 65th Infantry Regiment: the last and longest-standing segregated military unit in U.S. history that fought and commanded exclusively by Puerto Ricans.

In 2014, the U.S Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment under President Barack Obama to recognize the little-known, impressive and valiant role the Borinqueneer's played throughout the Middlesex County's entire militaristic history. When finished, the Borinqueneer Park will offer a rare opportunity to strengthen neighborhoods and make drastic improvements in pedestrian and transit infrastructure through the new open space.

The site is located across from the Robert N. Wilentz Elementary School between Patterson Street and the Raritan River waterfront. A former scrap metal facility, the site is located at the western end of the Perth Amboy riverfront promenade, which connects to numerous city open space and recreational areas.

This new park will create opportunities for programming and activities for the entire community and restore part of the City's natural coastline. The strong growth, attractiveness and demand for open space will be enhanced with technology to help promote the health and safety of all users.

The Middlesex County Improvement Authority received a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency to advise on environmental issues, perform additional site testing and engage in public outreach. Rutgers University's Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability and Bloustein School of Urban Planning ran a 8-month process that resulted in a concept plan directed by more than 300 local students.

In the past five years, with assistance from the NJDEP’s Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI) Program, the City and the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency acquired more than $7 Million in funding for final design, remediation and construction of the park from NJDEP.

Park programming will be organized into three main zones: a play-mountain with a skate park, a flexible recreational park, and a restored coastal landscape. These features pay tribute to the riverfront legacy of Perth Amboy, utilize modern green infrastructure practices to continue proper stewardship of the Raritan River all while encouraging creative play.