As New Jersey’s fastest growing city, Jersey City has experienced sustained growth since the 1980s. Amid this evolution, The City of Jersey City has consistently maintained its master plan, with updates to the City’s master plan in 2000, to the Open Space and Recreation Element in 2008, and in 2021, in order to meet the changing needs for community-serving facilities and spaces of its growing and diversifying community. The plan for Jersey City’s community centers, libraries, open spaces and programs is happening at a time of significant momentum around the future of the city. To be the best stewards of the future, attention must be given to resilience, affordability, and equity.
Jersey City is in the process of reinvesting in critical green infrastructure, as well as allocating funds for major renovations of existing facilities and parks to align with trends and community needs. Recently, under the guidance of new leadership, the City has invested over $6 million in parks and recreation facilities and increased the City-owned parkland by eleven percent. This show of commitment to increasing access between the city’s diverse communities and recreation is creating more places for people to thrive.
The plan positions Jersey City within the region and amongst its peer communities across the country to understand opportunities for future investment in enhancing or expanding the city’s open space and trails network, parks and recreation facilities, and other important neighborhood-serving anchors.
As the leaders of the open space element of the plan, Agency placed great attention on crafting a game plan to increase access to amenities the community desires the most, while balancing the City’s unique ecological needs and imagining safe, effective, and accessible multi-modal ways to reach these destinations. Agency led a team comprised of local partners – NV5, who led the analysis of access and connectivity networks, and Stokes Creative Group, leading element outreach. Berry Dunn lent technical expertise around recreation strategies. The Open Space Element was developed in close collaboration with the Land Use Element (led by BFJ) and the Vision Plan (led by AECOM).
AECOM also led public engagement for the three planning efforts, with support from the Agency team to reach city residents and visitors safely during COVID. While community engagement pivoted to mailers and virtual initiatives in the wake of COVID -19, teams also provided paper surveys available at library facilities and city hall. In addition, Agency partnered with Stokes for more in-depth community engagement. Yet, there were still moments for in person conversations during socially distanced activities with community members.