Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark Environmental Justice Task Force Endorses Essex-Hudson Greenway Project

October 12, 2021 |

Group Cites Pope Francis’ Encyclical Urging Protection of the Planet and its Natural Resources

Newark, New Jersey – October 12, 2021 – The Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition, comprised of the Open Space Institute, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, and September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, today welcomed the endorsement of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark Environmental Justice Task Force, as the latest major organization come out in support of the Essex-Hudson Greenway Project.

“The proposed Essex-Hudson Greenway is a prime example of what Pope Francis calls for when asking the people of the world to be faithful stewards of God’s gift of creation,” said Father Timothy Graff, Secretary of Parish Mission and Vitality Director of Social Concerns Office for the Archdiocese of Newark. “The Greenway addresses the need for a focus on urban and overpopulated communities, including regions where green space and access to nature is not plentiful. The Church also encourages support of the poor, and this project offers a multitude of benefits to so many poorer and more vulnerable people across the region.”

Pope Francis calls on the Church and the world to acknowledge the environmental challenges of the planet and work towards a new path. As a result, the proposed Greenway is an answer to the Encyclical Letter of the Holy Father Francis on Care for Our Common Home, also known as the Laudato Si’, a 2015 papal encyclical addressed to “every person living on this planet” to begin an inclusive dialogue about the future of our planet.

The backing by the Archdiocese’s Environmental Justice Task Force follows the endorsement in June by St. Lucy’s Parish, Newark’s largest parish and home to the greatest number of Spanish-speaking Catholics in the region. 

Residents of communities all along the proposed length of the linear park have been campaigning for more than a decade to create a greenway that would serve as a “shared-use path” for people walking, riding a bicycle, running, rolling, or just relaxing along this corridor. In July 2020, the Open Space Institute (OSI) reached a preliminary purchase and sale agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway Company for property in Essex and Hudson Counties for the purpose of the Greenway. The purchase agreement has a sale deadline of January 2022.

Spanning an average of 100 feet or more in width throughout its route, an Essex-Hudson Greenway has the potential to offer significant benefits. The project offers the potential to reduce traffic and storm water runoff in towns along the rail line, improve transportation options for residents, and allow for improved infrastructure connectivity for things like broadband and emergency response.

About Open Space Institute
Founded more than four decades ago, the Open Space Institute (OSI) has partnered in the protection of 2.3 million acres across eastern North America from Quebec to Florida. Over the past 16 years, OSI has worked to protect more than 21,000 acres of New Jersey farms, forests, and local parkland within the Highlands, the Pinelands, the Bayshore, and the heavily developed northeastern suburbs. In addition to the Essex Hudson Greenway, OSI’s current projects include efforts to help protect land and improve water quality in the Delaware River Basin and provide public access to the 1,200-acre Jersey City Reservoir in Boonton and Parsippany.

About New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition
The New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition (NJBWC) is the only statewide advocacy organization for bicyclists and pedestrians and provides a collective voice for everyone who believes that a more rideable and walkable New Jersey means a more livable, equitable, and sustainable New Jersey.  NJBWC officially adopted the Essex Hudson Greenway Project in 2014 and has been a leader in building the advocacy campaign to make it a reality.

About the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance
The September 11th National Memorial Trail is a 1,300-mile system of trails and roadways that links the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The route serves as a symbol of national resiliency and character and as a tribute to the fallen heroes who perished on September 11, 2001, and the many heroes who have committed themselves to the response for their country.