Community meeting gives updates on $14M County Courthouse Park in Jersey City


SWA Group and the Jersey City Department of Infrastructure held a community meeting last night about the $14 million County Courthouse Park that will be built on the site of the Hudson County Administration building.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

The administration is moving to new offices currently being built in what will be the Honorable Frank J. Guarini Justice complex. Transforming the 3.4-acre site into a versatile park will cost $14 million and is anticipated to be completed in 2027.

“We know how important it is for this community, which lacks any usable green space … It will be the largest in the area,” Jersey City Infrastructure Director Barkha Patel declared.

She explained that the city has been working to increase parks and green space in the area partly by working on the new Bergen Square and the Bergen Arches projects.

She noted advocates pushed for the land to be preserved as green space. Courthouse Park advocacy group leader Laura Moss explained they’ve been working on this endeavor since about 2018.

“We’re advocating for everyone here. It’s been a tricky balance. The city said they want to hear from the residents,” she noted.

“Everything is moving forward. It’s just taking a long time. I never imagined we’d be here five years ago.”

There are some environmental issues with the land that must be addressed, Patel noted.

Hudson County is in the process of transferring the land to Jersey City, with the Board of Commissioners and Jersey City City Council have been working together, which will speed up the process, Patel explained.

While the city will build it and own the land, the county will maintain it.

“We had to take a really serious look at the underground parking garage. We went through a structural analysis. It said it is not structurally sound. That garage will not be retained. It will just be a park on top of it,” Patel added.

She was also forthcoming in that it would take millions of dollars to rehabilitate the garage, as well as that the county commissioners already approved the transfer of the land to the city.

“It’s not a simple and straightforward issue. They’re exploring where … they can build and add parking. For us it was important for us to not compromise too much. There is such a need for green space,” Patel later said.

Moss noted she didn’t believe the new complex would have enough parking spots.

“They are aware. I don’t want to commit the county to anything. We need to move forward in this project without the parking garage,” Patel replied.

She noted the city is going to build the park, but the county is going to maintain it.

Moss also criticized the county and their process and praised Patel for her work on the park.

SWA Group Associate Principal Steven Lee described their park design, not that it incorporated a lot of feedback from the public on what they wanted.

The park will have an abundance of shade and trees, including a space for community events and farmers markets, along with walkways and plazas throughout.

Inside will be a dog park, a children’s playground, outdoor fitness equipment, and a multi-use lawn, coupled with pavilions, a cafe, and restrooms. Two thirds of the proposed design will include grass, plants, and/or trees.

SWA Group Managing Principal Tom Balsley, pointing out that the slopped land will feature a large fountain where children can play in the summer. The area can also be converted into seating for an outdoor show.

He said the park could accommodate community events like outdoor movies and concerts, with Lee stating that the designs have not been finalized.

“This park could be a victim of its success,” Moss said, noting that the grass may not last for long and an alternative should be considered.

“We really want to stay away from things like turf. That has been a guiding principal,” Patel replied.

Balsley said the nature of the sloped land will decrease the likelihood of too many visitors ruining the grass, while Patel highlighted that the city is coordinating with the municipal utilities authority (MUA) on infrastructure issues.

The fifth and final workshop meeting will be in June after feedback is incorporated into what will be the final Master Plan, which is necessary before construction begins.

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