WOODLAND PARK, NJ - A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Wednesday for the first phase of the Borough of Woodland Park’s McBride Avenue streetscape project at the corner of McBride and Hillery Street.

Those in attendance included Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark, members of the Borough Council, Woodland Park Business Association President Pat Spinoso, Passaic County Freeholders Assad Akhter and Pat Lepore, Passaic County Clerk Kristin Corrado, and Assemblyman Kevin Rooney.

The project’s aim is to make the stretch of McBride Avenue more pedestrian, bike and patron-friendly, as well as ensuring safe and convenient access to the retail and dining establishments along the thoroughfare. Additionally the improvements make the sidewalks safer for children walking to and from school.

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The improvements include ADA compliant barrier-free curb ramps and detectable warning surfaces.

“This project was exclusively funded through grants - $500,000 from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and $30,000 County Corridor Enhancement Funds from the County of Passaic,” Mayor Kazmark said, adding that the borough has applied for a federal grant exceeding $1 million to continue the work.

Improvements will include decorative brick pavers, decorative lighting, new street signs, new driveway aprons, trash and recycling receptacles, planters and bike racks. The decorative lighting with match those that were installed at Dowling Gardens. Sidewalks will also be repaved along the stretch. Alaimo Group of Paterson and Mt. Holly is the contractor for the project.

Borough officials starting discussing ways to improve the aesthetics on McBride Avenue dating back to 1999 with the intention of attracting more businesses and patrons to the municipality.

In April 2013, the Borough Council adopted a central business district ordinance that outlining plans for mixed use buildings and better crosswalks. The council’s aim was to encourage individuals to shop in town and dress up the downtown area.

Parking restrictions along McBride Avenue were also lifted in 2015 to encourage residents to park in the street when visiting businesses along the thoroughfare.

Kazmark thanked Assemblymen Kevin O’Toole, David Russo and Kevin Rooney for their support and assistance in obtaining the funding, as well as Passaic County for its assistance in approvals, as McBride Avenue is a county road.

“We will be back for more,” Mayor Kazmark said regarding funding, noting that the goal of the streetscape project is to make the improvements all the way to the Little Falls border.

“This is something very valuable, not just for aesthetics. It’s very valuable to the business owners,” said Freeholder Akhter. “When you talk about economic stimulus, that is what this is all about.”