Tuesday, July 30, 2013

East Orange Planning Board to hear plan to revitalize city through its parks and open spaces

By Leonardo Vazquez

A plan to revitalize East Orange NJ through its parks and open spaces will be presented to the City’s planning board on August 7.  The plan includes public art strategies to promote safety and navigation, as well as East Orange’s diverse cultural heritage.
Proposal for deck park between City Hall and Public Library

The Park Master Plan is East Orange’s most comprehensive effort to date in using parks to promote community and local economic development.  Some of the key ideas in the plan include:


  • Creating a ‘deck park’ over what is now part of Interstate 280 between City Hall and the main branch of the East Orange Public Library.  More than a new open space, the deck park would help reconnect parts of the city that were scarred by the construction of the highway in the 1960s.  The deck park would also include an outdoor performance space.
  • Physical improvements and upgrades to all the parks in the city.
  • Creating ‘friends of the parks’ groups, which would be government-community partnerships to help maintain improvements to the parks.  These friends groups may also become the foundation for new civic leadership in the City.
  • Development of greenways and ‘artways’ (streets with a larger share of public art) to promote safer walking and bicycling between open spaces.
  • The use of public art in parks that helps promote East Orange’s recent history and current culture.

The plan was created by a team led by Philadelphia landscape architects Wells Appel  and that includes Nishuane Group.  Leonardo Vazquez, the Executive Director of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, is also a Senior Associate with the Montclair, NJ-based Nishuane Group
and led public outreach for the plan.  He also developed several of the creative placemaking strategies in the plan. 
City residents prioritizing issues at one of several public engagement sessions


The East Orange Planning Board meets 7 pm August 7, at East Orange City Hall, 44 City Hall Plaza.

You can learn more about the project at the East Orange Parks Plan Facebook page

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