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BLOOMFIELD, NJ -- On Monday morning, Bloomfield Township held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its newest natural resource amenity Lion Gate Park, which serves as an active recreational park and environmental restoration. The Lion Gate Park project is the culmination of nearly two decades of work by the township to acquire the property and build a sustainable park.
Mayor Venezia and the Town Council were joined by Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette, Essex County Commissioners Carlos Pomares and Brendan Gill and members of the public.
“Our ability to open this park is a testament to the hard work and advocacy of so many people in our community,” said Mayor Venezia. “For years, we have fought to acquire this land, reduce flood risk in the area and deliver a state of the art park for our residents and that work has paid off in a spectacular way. Bloomfield already had a great portfolio of parks and green spaces and this only adds to that.”
The 18.4 acre property was a flood-prone, former industrial site in which developers had attempted to build 148 town houses and 298 parking spaces. Following years of advocacy and litigation, the township secured the property through a range of grants from NJDEP in support of this project.
Lion Gate Park will contain three key elements:
Active Recreational Facilities – Construction of a new multi-use synthetic turf field flexibly-lined for soccer, flag football, ultimate frisbee and other team sports; spectator bleachers; play areas for children aged 2-12; separate fitness stations covering sit-ups/pull-ups/arm-walks/toe-reach; several thousand feet of pedestrian and bicycle paths finished in an all-weather surface; benches, picnic spots and a state-of-the-art drinking fountain containing spigots for kids, adults, bottle-fill and pets.
Freshwater Wetlands Complex – Creation of a new 4.2 acre wetland connected hydrologically to the Third River, Spring Brook and former floodplain that will store and slowly release up to ten-million gallons of floodwater while creating new aquatic, terrestrial and riparian habitat;
Field House to Support Park Operations – A field house constructed of textured masonry and synthetic wood has been located near the park entrance. This 950 square foot building contains a garage for maintenance equipment along with space
for storage and access to team sports equipment such as moveable goals, cones, balls, corner flags, etc. The field house’s ADA-compliant restrooms will be available to park and field visitors. In addition, a concessions area has been designed with service windows oriented to the sports field and walking trails.
“This new park reflects the many years of advocacy and commitment of our township and this project now sets the gold standard,” said Councilman Joanow. “With the total support of the governing body and the community, amazing things can be accomplished. This is a project that is timely and places Bloomfield Township as a visionary in environmental sustainability and resilience.”
With land assemblage complete, construction of the wetland area and recreational elements, Lion Gate Park is no longer at-risk of flooding. Today, the park will substantially reduce the risk and severity of flooding downstream, while working to advance Bloomfield’s compliance with New Jersey’s strict new storm water management regulations.
“I have seen this project take on many shapes and forms over the years.I am very pleased with the final outcome and I’m excited to add Lion Gate Park to an already thriving Municipal Park System,” said Bloomfield Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Michael Sceurman. “Thank you to everyone involved in this project and for building such a unique park for our community. With this park we have created a legacy that will have a positive impact on future generations.”