Park on Jersey City Superfund site will have virus victims' memorial
Jersey City is transforming a Superfund site into a riverfront park that will include a memorial to the city’s residents who have died from COVID-19.
Mayor Steven Fulop on Thursday announced a $10 million investment to help create the 12-acre public space along the Hackensack River that will feature a garden, scenic walkways and a pedestrian bridge connecting to a grove of 516 trees, each representing a COVID-19 victim. Each name will be part of a memorial wall.
“There will be a tree planted for each of the 503 individuals not only robbed of their lives earlier this year – but also robbed of the opportunity to have a proper funeral where loved ones could say goodbye to them,” Fulop said.
Fulop said that he could relate. His grandmother died during the lockdown, as did Hoboken Councilman Michael Yun. Neither had a funeral. Yun’s friend Vernon Richardson spoke on the Yun family’s behalf.
“I believe [the park] will represent the resiliency of the city. Everyone from those who died, to those who loved them, to those who had a bad 2020. It will provide closure for all of us and provide a place for us all to gather,” Richardson said.
A portion of the Pulaski Skyway was built on the site in the 1930s. In the 1970s, it hosted the PJP Landfill where chemical and industrial waste was dumped, legally and illegally, creating frequent subsurface fires. The site was put on the Superfund list in the mid-1980s, and state and federal environmental agencies conducted remediation in the 1980s and ’90s.
The 87-acre site currently is home to a warehouse distribution center and trucking business. More than 200,000 people live within 2 1/2 miles of the site, according to the EPA's website.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.