The Township of South Orange Village announced today that it has been awarded a $1,000,000 grant for its ongoing River Greenway project, believed to be one of, if not the largest single grant ever received by the Village.
The Village learned of the award in a letter from New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox (see below). The grant, awarded under the NJDOT FY 2014 Transportation Alternatives Program, will fund the construction of approximately 3,600 linear feet of a pedestrian path and bikeway, connecting the southern border of the Village at Chyzowych Field in Maplewood to Third Street near the South Orange train station in the Village center.
According to Commissioner Fox’s letter, the Department received 146 applications seeking funding totaling $97 million. With only $15.5 million available to award, the grant application process was highly competitive. South Orange was one of only 28 projects awarded funding and the Village’s $1 million dollar award was the highest among all 28 grants awarded.
Village Administrator, Barry Lewis, who prepared the application together with Deputy Administrator, Adam Loehner, credited the valuable input and assistance of the Village Engineer, Sal Renda, Deputy Engineer, Ed Gulyas, and the Village’s River Greenway Committee, specifically mentioning former Village Trustee, Janine Bauer, for putting together a compelling and ultimately successful grant application. Mr. Lewis also credited the Village President and Board of Trustees, past and present, for their vision in creating, and perseverance and commitment to completing, the River Greenway project.
“The Village is extremely excited and grateful for this generous funding award, which will allow the Village to take another leap forward in completing this project. By linking the north and south sections of South Orange, the River Greenway offers residents both an eco-friendly transportation alternative and a recreational experience in some of our most unique natural resources.” said Village Trustee Walter Clarke, who serves as Trustee liaison to the River Greenway Committee and the Environmental Commission, while also chairing the Trustee Public Works Committee.
Lewis also stressed that South Orange wanted to extend its appreciation to U.S. Senator Corey Booker, Congressman Donald Payne, Jr., State Senator Richard Codey, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Assemblyman John McKeon, and the Essex County Board
of Chosen Freeholders, all of whom expressed support for the project and grant
“This incredible grant award was truly the result of a broad coalition, at every level
of government, which collectively saw the great value to the community of this project” said Village President Alex Torpey. “The River Greenway is a vital piece of our overall
plan to make South Orange a walkable, sustainable, vibrant and thriving community.”
This portion of the River Greenway project will, in part, replace an existing unlit path through a wooded section of Village land with a new 10′-wide asphalt pathway, complete with lighting, benches, trash and recycling receptacles, bicycle racks, landscaping and signage. The existing unlit path is heavily travelled by high school students walking to Columbia High School as well as residents traveling between Maplewood and the Village Center.
The new improved path will is a significant link in the River Greenway Project, which is a comprehensive Village plan to connect the northern and southern boundaries of the Village in a single, walkable and bikeable linear trail. This major addition to the existing portions of the River Greenway will provide both recreational opportunities and a safe transportation alternative to reach the downtown, Columbia High School and other public places such as the Library, the Baird, Village government offices and the South Orange Train Station.
Additional information on the River Greenway is available on the South Orange Village website at: https://www.southorange.org/development/RiverMP.asp.