The city has unveiled a makeover plan for the Overlook Park section of the Great Falls National Historical Park that creates an improved view of the Great Falls from McBride Avenue extension and calls for the relocation of the iconic Alexander Hamilton statute to a more photographable location.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres unveiled the plan at the Great Falls National Historical Park’s Federal Advisory Commission on Thursday, October 20th, 2016. City historic preservation director Gianfranco Archimedes presented visuals to the commission.
Archimedes did not provide a copy of the presentation which illustrates the changes that will be made at the park. The changes not only include the relocation of the statue to allow visitors to capture photographs with the founding father with the water fall as the backdrop, but also a redone parking lot with green areas and trees.
The key improvement in the plan is an extended and redesigned viewing plaza on the upper level of Overlook Park where visitors have the best view of the water fall.
There’s also a paved pathway, stairs, and catwalk connecting visitors from the parking area across the presently inaccessible embankment over to the footbridge to Mary Ellen Kramer Park which was fully renovated in August 2015.
Torres envisages a new entrance from McBride Avenue directly to the high-elevated area of the park for a sublime view of the falls. The parking lot wall will be demolished to open up the plaza where the current Alexander Hamilton statue is situated, said Archimedes.
The street level Great Falls Historical National Park sign will be replaced with a permanent sign that sits on the rocks that are currently behind the sign, said officials. Some of the members of the commission asked about the fence that runs along McBride Avenue.
Torres said the fence is a wrought iron fence that can be taken out and restored by sand blasting it. He said the overgrowth that lies along the walkway from McBride Avenue will be landscaped. The mayor said some of it has been cleared already.
There’s $1.5 million in city, county, state, and federal funds for the project, said officials. The city hopes to award a contract for the work in January and have it completed by the summer of 2017.
“The makeover of Overlook Park is coming just as we are seeing significant increases in visitation to the national park,” said Darren Boch, superintendent of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. “Working in partnership with the city, state and county governments, very tangible progress is being made in the park to enhance the visitor experience and create a destination that rises to the level of Paterson’s national importance.”
There’s been very few improvements or amenities added to Overlook Park since it opened more than 50 years ago.
“It is encouraging to see improvements and I invite Patersonians, the region and the nation to share in and enjoy the possibilities of recreation, happy family moments, and tourism within the backdrop of our city jewel the Great Falls in the Passaic River,” said Torres in a statement on Monday morning.
The plan is being reviewed by federal, state, country, and local agencies.
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