Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Federal agencies propose new 5-acre East Newark public park
Public comment invited on first restoration project affiliated with local Superfund site

December 22, 2020

Contact(s):

Meagan Racey, meagan_racey@fws.gov, 413-253-8558 

Tom Brosnan, tom.brosnan@noaa.gov, 240-533-0431 



EAST NEWARK, New Jersey – Within a few years, a new 5-acre park could exist along the Passaic River waterfront in East Newark, according to a proposal released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The park proposal is outlined in a draft early restoration plan and environmental assessment available for public comment through January 22, 2021. The preliminary park design includes pathways and an elevated walkway along the river, as well as converting industrial land into restored forest, pollinator gardens, native grasslands and wetlands.

The proposal is associated with the extensive Diamond Alkali Superfund site, which includes the 17.4 miles of the Passaic River from its confluence with the Newark Bay to Dundee Dam; the Newark Bay; the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull; and tidal portions of the Hackensack River. 

The agencies are federal trustees for natural resources, meaning they are authorized to act on behalf of the public for natural resources the public owns, manages or controls. In this role, trustees assess the injuries to natural resources from hazardous substance releases, and work to achieve restoration of these injuries and resulting losses. The park proposal is the first restoration project associated with this federal process at the Superfund site.

The goal of natural resource damage assessment and restoration is to replace, restore or acquire the equivalent of the resources and recreational opportunities affected by contamination – at no cost to taxpayers. The trustees invite potentially responsible parties to participate in this process. The proposed park project resulted from early cooperative discussions with one potentially responsible party, which, if the project continues to move forward as planned, will fund the design and development of the park, and maintenance and operations.

The trustees support the project’s anticipated benefits to recreation, water quality and runoff, habitat for birds and pollinators, and Environmental Justice communities disproportionately impacted by past hazardous substance releases. In turn, when the park is completed, the party will earn credit that can be used to offset liability for natural resource damages under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

The early restoration project is just one part of the natural resource damage assessment and restoration process. This process is distinct from cleanup activities overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2020, the trustees began studies to assess injuries related to the release of hazardous substances from or near the Superfund site. These and other studies focusing on the identification and quantification of injuries in certain bird and fish species related to the release of hazardous substances at or near the Superfund site will continue in 2021. Study results will assist the trustees in assessing the scope and scale of injuries, and in turn help consider the full scope of restoration. Remedial actions and natural resource damage assessment activities at sites as expansive and complex as the Diamond Alkali Superfund site often take years to complete. 

The draft early restoration plan and environmental assessment will be available for public comment until January 22, 2021. Interested individuals, organizations, and agencies may submit comments by writing or emailing:

Clay Stern

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

4 E. Jimmie Leeds Road, Suite 4

Galloway, New Jersey 08205

clay_stern@fws.gov

An electronic version of the draft early restoration plan and environmental assessment will be posted online in the DOI Damage Assessment Tracking System and on the NOAA Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program website.

The federal trustees will review and consider all public comments and input on the draft early restoration plan and environmental assessment received during the public comment period prior to finalizing the plan and assessment. The final early restoration plan and environmental assessment will address those comments in a responsiveness summary appendix.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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