The city is among ten throughout the United States to receive a $40,000 grant from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) to improve residents’ access to high-quality parks and green space.
Funds will be used to develop a parks and fields master plan to boost the number of residents living 10-minute walking distance from a park from the current 72 to 100-percent.
“Creating a master parks plan will allow us to focus on access and quality when we make park funding decisions, and we are so grateful for the support of the 10-Minute Walk Campaign to help us create this plan,” said mayor Andre Sayegh in announcing the grant award.
The grant was awarded as part of the 10-Minute Walk campaign run by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). In all $400,000 was awarded to the ten cities.
Paterson was the sole New Jersey municipality to get an award.
“Parks are essential to the health, happiness and prosperity of our nation,” said Jack Kardys, board chairman for the National Recreation and Park Association. “We believe everyone deserves a great park and we’re proud to help lead this effort that prioritizes parks in cities and urban areas across the country.”
Kardys’ group held a two-day training event — Mar. 5-6, 2019 — in Chattanooga, Tenn. Several officials from Paterson attended the training event.
“I was thrilled to represent the city as part of the delegation which traveled to Chattanooga for hands-on, technical assistance training with other cities in our cohort,” said Maritza Davila, president of the City Council. “There is so much to learn from other cities who are tackling similar challenges in different ways. Our master parks plan will be a legacy project that will benefit thousands of Patersonians for generations to come.”
With 72-percent or almost 100,000 of its residents living 10-minute walk from a park, Paterson is above the U.S. average of 54-percent, according to the Trust for Public Land.
Paterson has 20 parks. It has 263 acres of park land.
But many of its parks are in bad shape due to neglect. Public works employees are ill-trained and ill-equipped to maintain municipal parks. The city, accustomed to a budget crisis every year, lacks funds to maintain its parks.
Still, there has been a push to renovate parks and fields in the city. For example, the city is renovating the field at Buckley Park for $1.37 million. In 2017, a nonprofit unveiled a master plan to renovate Westside Park.
There’s also the recent renovation of Mary Ellen Kramer Park and Overlook Park at the Great Falls National Park.
Passaic County officials have circulated a master plan to develop a park at the site of the former Vistas on Jasper Street off Totowa Avenue.
Over the past several years, residents reclaimed Barbour Park on Broadway from vagrants and drug addicts.