Reclaiming Laurel Hill Park Waterfront after 100 years

“This is a very auspicious occasion,” says Hackensack Riverkeeper, Capt. Bill Sheehan. 
“This walkway directly behind us was not just my idea — this was an idea that we tossed around and we tossed around.”

The Hudson County Improvement Authority, in conjunction with the Hackensack Riverkeeper unveiled the new waterfront promenade in Laurel Hill Park on Tuesday.

Compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the promenade will allow pedestrian access over the Hackensack River, as well as fishing stations.

This is what they mean when they say people need adequate public access.

“We’ve been engaged in litigation now with the state of New Jersey since 2012 over their inappropriate definitions of what public access in this part of the state is supposed to be,” Sheehan says.

What we see here is an example of how citizens and government function at their best.

“Truth of the matter is, it took 100 years of abuse and neglect to destroy this river and these environs,” Sen. Robert Torricelli says.

A hundred years of people willing to look the other way.

“Profit by — at the public expense, not worry about health, not worry about the environment,” Torricelli says.

But now it’s just year by year.

“Pushing back and reclaiming what it took 100 years to lose, we’re going to get back in a generation,” says Torricelli.

Secaucus is not a place where a lot of attention falls.

“But a project like this makes you stand out and really show the man that you are and what you care about,” says Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, speaking to County Executive Tom DeGise.

If you listen closely, you can hear the river talking to you.

“By the wildlife that is returning here, the cleanness of the water,” DeGise says.  “The river is smiling a little bit today.”

About The Author

Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time, Jillian enjoys yoga; working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Follow on Twitter @JillianRis

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