City wants to acquire 32.5 acresOld PJP landfill property sought for soccer fields, park

Jersey City officials have talked for some time about developing the “other Gold Coast,” the acres of land on the city’s west side overlooking the Hackensack River.
But the acreage, running along Highway 1 & 9 south from Broadway to Duncan Avenue, has been occupied for industrial use. In particular, 87 acres was once the site of the old PJP Landfill, where underground fires burned non-stop until the landfill was closed down in the 1980s.
Since then, the land has been designated an EPA Superfund site. In April of last year, the national firm Waste Management, taking responsibility for the dumping that took place on the site, and AMB Property, LLC, which is developing a industrial warehouse and distribution center on 47 acres and setting aside five acres for open space, reached agreements with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection for the final capping and redevelopment of that part of the PJP Landfill site.
But there are also 32.5 acres privately owned by Clifton resident Edwin Siegel. The city has fined Siegel millions of dollars for allegedly having illegal dumpsites there in recent years.
Now, Jersey City wants to take those 32.5 acres off Siegel’s hands by acquiring it to build two soccer fields and a park, an open space area to be known as the Marion Greenway (it is also named the Hackensack Riverfront Park).
The City Council at its March 25 meeting introduced an ordinance to acquire Siegel’s land, and also approved an application for a $4 million grant from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to pay for the acquisition of the land and the planning and construction of the fields and park.
Final approval for the ordinance is scheduled for the next City Council meeting this coming Wednesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 280 Grove St.

Dead space into green space

Jersey City Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis said the ordinance came about after several years of legal fighting and negotiating with Siegel over his land. The city had discussed possibly relocating the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Jersey City Incinerator Authority to the site. They are both currently located on land on Route 440 that has to be remediated for chromium in the next few years. Instead, those two agencies will be relocated to a site on Linden Avenue.
He said the grant request to the Port Authority is from funds which the authority has made available to preserve land around major waterways in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.
Matsikoudis would not go into details about the cost of acquiring the land.
Matsikoudis called the Marion Greenway project a “major effort” that will start with Waste Management doing the first phase, planting wildflowers and vegetation, and creating parking and entranceways as part of their obligation to cleanup the land.
The city will be responsible for creating the park, soccer fields, jogging trail, and fair grounds for concerts and other outdoor events. He did not offer a timeline on when this project will start and end.

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“But as a green space, it is wonderful.” – Mariano Vega
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One of the council members who will definitely be voting for acquisition will be City Council President Mariano Vega, when asked recently about it.
“I was delighted that the land would not become a site for the DPW and the Incinerator Authority because it would have added more traffic,” Vega said. “But as a green space, it is wonderful.”
Siegel could not be reached for comment on the ordinance before press time.

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonrreporter.com.