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The Lion’s Gate Park and Urban Wetland Floodplain Creation Project has been chosen as a winner of the New Jersey Future “Smart Growth Awards” for 2022. The project transformed a densely developed, flood-prone, industrial site into a thriving public active recreation park with 4.2 acres of wetlands.
As stated in the New Jersey Future award announcement, “The park is representative of smart growth values, with walkable trails in the middle of a residential area, a regenerated protected wetland which helps to mitigate flooding from storms like Hurricane Ida, and mixed-use opportunities for recreation. The dual roles of Lion Gate Park as both a source of resilience and recreation demonstrate a model of land use and planning that values the accessibility of public spaces while acknowledging and addressing the urgent need to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change in New Jersey.”
The restoration project site is located in Bloomfield Township and includes 1,360 feet along the east bank of the Third River and 3,040 feet along the banks of the Spring Brook. These waterways are freshwater tributaries of the Passaic River and share a history of flooding above the site’s 100-year floodplain. The Third River, like many urban streams, tends to be the victim of excessive volume and is subjected to erosion and chronic, uncontrolled flooding.
By removing a little over four acres of upland historic fill in this density developed area and restoring the natural floodplain connection, we significantly improved the land’s ecological value; enhanced the aquatic and wildlife habitat; increased flood storage capacity for urban stormwater runoff; replaced invasive plant species with thriving native wetland and riparian plant communities; and provided outdoor recreation accessibility to Bloomfield Township.
The Lion Gate Park project is the culmination of nearly two decades of collaborative work. The primary project team includes the Township of Bloomfield, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Bloomfield Third River Association, CME Associates, PPD Design, GK+A Architects, Enviroscapes, Strauss and Associates/Planners, and Princeton Hydro. The project recieved $1.76 million in funding from the New Jersey Freshwater Wetlands Mitigation Council and another several million dollars from NJDEP’s Office of Natural Resource Restoration.
Princeton Hydro served as the ecological engineer to Bloomfield Township. Our scientists and engineers assisted in obtaining grants, collected background ecological data through field sampling and surveying, created a water budget, completed all necessary permitting, designed both the conceptual and final restoration plans, and conducted construction oversight throughout the project. Enviroscapes and Princeton Hydro are currently monitoring the site on behalf of the Township.
“Local residents are already benefiting from this floodplain creation project. During Tropical Storm Ida, the area held significant flood waters,” said Mark Gallagher, Vice President of Princeton Hydro. “This restoration project really exemplifies how a diverse group of public and private entities can work together to prioritize urban and underserved areas to mitigate flooding and create new open space. We’re honored to be recognized by NJ Future and selected as a winner of this important award.”
Since 2002, New Jersey Future has honored smart planning and redevelopment in New Jersey through its “Smart Growth Awards.” The projects and plans chosen each year represent some of the best examples of sustainable growth and redevelopment in the state. For a complete list of 2022 Award Winners, click here. For more info on New Jersey Future, click here.
To learn more about the Bloomfield restoration project and see drone images of it all coming together, click below:
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