The start of something big

Renovation of pocket park is piece of larger park puzzle

The kids from Happy Face Day Care center in Jersey City couldn’t wait for Mayor Steven Fulop to cut the ribbon on the newly-reconstructed playground in Janet Moore Park on Ogden Avenue. So they decided to start without him.
Begun in September, the $233,257 renovations finished a month early, prompting Fulop, community leaders, residents, and kids to hold an official ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 7.
Janet Moore Park is located at the extreme southern end of Ogden Avenue near Cuneo Place, an area that in the past had posed public safety issues, but has since become a hive of community activity. Earlier this year, the Riverview Neighborhood Association leased a nearby lot to start a community garden.
This renovation is part of what the Fulop administration called an aggressive implementation of the city’s Park Master Plan developed in 2008.
The renovation included the installation of new playground equipment and safety surfacing, new park furnishings such as benches and trash receptacles, landscaping, fencing, and sidewalk improvements.
While the kids said they had a playground of their own back at their nursery school, many of them came to this park even before the city helped refurbish it.
There is a huge demand for open space and playgrounds everywhere in the city.
So with day care center staff looking on, the kids – mostly about 4 years old – swarmed the soft surfaces of the playground and mounted the complicated playground equipment, carefully ducking under the ribbon the mayor would shortly cut.
When Fulop did arrive, he jumped right in on the activities, supervising as kids made their way through the maze and down the slides. Prompted by kids and some adults, Fulop took his turn sliding down the twisty slides to numerous giggles from the kids.

Part of a much larger plan

The park renovation is part of a $6 million commitment by the city to help build or restore park space around the city. The Fulop administration has been restoring parks large and small throughout the city over the last year and half, and expects shortly to unveil Berry Lane Park along Garfield Avenue, the largest park in the city.
The master plan’s implementation has come with heavy input from various community groups, especially those associated with specific parks.
In 2008, the city signed a memo of understanding with the Jersey City Parks Coalition that allowed their members to advise and even participate in some of the upgrades.

“Open space is a precious commodity in a city as densely populated as Jersey City.” – Steven Fulop
Shortly after taking office as mayor, Fulop met with the members of the coalition to discuss the parks plan, and in 2014, pledged $6 million towards the upgrade or construction of parks throughout the city, and the accelerated construction of Berry Lane Park.
“Open space is a precious commodity in a city as densely-populated as Jersey City,” Fulop said. “We are committed to providing as much open space as possible for our young and our older citizens.”
He said Berry Lane is expected to cut a ribbon shortly. But there are numerous other small parks being redone as well

Named after the person who pushed for the park

Janet Moore Park was named after a community activist with the Riverview Neighborhood Association who was instrumental in helping create the park back in the 1980s.
“She was very active in the 1970s and 1980s,” said Roger Heitmann, treasurer of the RNA. “She worked to get a park placed here. This was very troubled area in those days. Now, it has become a great neighborhood.”
The park is about eight or more blocks from Fisk/Riverview Park. A small, pocket park, it includes a playground, a set of swings, park benches and a planting area. It also complements the nearby community garden that the RNA helped establish this year, providing two venues for open space in a densely populated part of the city.
“This allows kids in this area to have a playground,” Heitmann said. “Parents might not want their kids having to walk all the way up to Fisk Park.”
The playground includes a new safe surface.
A monument bearing Janet Moore’s name was placed at the park when it was named in her honor in 1995.
“Her family still comes here once a year to place flowers at her monument,” Heitmann said.
Moore was extremely active in promoting a part for this location, partly because illicit activity that took place in this remote area, but also because of the growing need for kids and others to have open space. Over the years, the neighborhood has become very active with kids and adults, but the need for open space has also increased.
Laura Skolar, of the Jersey City Parks coalition said this is more than just about a park, but about the kids.
“This is among a number of park projects around the city that are being redone,” she said.
Skolar said Gordon Park – commonly called Mosquito Park – on Manhattan Avenue will also see significant work, although the city is currently trying to solve its water retention issues. That park is largely hills and run off has affected the neighborhood in the past.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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