A recent New York Times feature about plans to revive Newark’s Military Park described a grandiose $3.25 million project that seeks to revitalize the “derelict” park.
It’s a much-needed renovation that shouldn’t stop at the park’s edges. The redevelopment of Military Park provides a key opportunity for Biederman Redevelopment Ventures (who is overseeing the renovations), the City of Newark and NJDOT to prioritize safe access to the park for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and motorists.
The triangular, six-acre park, which is bounded by Broad Street (one of the region’s Most Dangerous Roads), Rector Street and Park Place, is the closest major park to the central business district, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the forthcoming Prudential office tower. Because Newark has limited park space and the most car-free households of any city in the nation after New York City, the Military Park redevelopment can be a recreational and green space boon for the city — but not if it is surrounded by dangerous intersections and an uninviting streetscape.
Tri-State conducted an informal walking audit of the roadways surrounding the park and found that:
- crosswalks leading to the park are in dire need of maintenance
- sidewalks on Park Place should be widened to safely accommodate pedestrians
- Broad Street, which is seven lanes wide, could benefit from the addition of crossing islands (also known as pedestrian refuges). These provide safe havens for pedestrians who are unable to safely cross the roadway all at once, such as seniors, persons with disabilities and young children.
One of the goals of the Military Park’s revitalization is to “evoke Newark’s vibrant history.” Channeling Newark’s history to help revitalize the park should also be tied towards promoting a safer and more vibrant future for the area by allowing the City of Newark to demonstrate its commitment to the Complete Streets policy it adopted this past September.