Advocates, Officials Call for Funding ‘Capital Park’

Apr 26, 2023

TRENTON, NJ — This week, three New Jersey nonprofits — New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation), New Jersey Future, and the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (NJLCV) — ramped up their public campaign calling for “Capital Park” to be funded and built behind the New Jersey State House in Trenton. As the multi-year renovation of the historic State House nears completion, advocates are urging Governor Phil Murphy and state legislators to set aside $15 million in this year’s budget to build the urban park.

On Monday, April 24, NJ Conservation’s Co-Executive Director Jay Watson led state officials and members of the public on a walkthrough of the prospective park site, which would provide a vibrant, publicly accessible green oasis, and connect important city and state cultural assets. Guests included Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and State Senator Shirley K. Turner.

State Senator Shirley K. Turner speaking alongside Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman at the walkthrough of the prospective ‘Capital Park’ site on April 24.

“Capital Park will complement our great State House while addressing the needs of sustainability through green design techniques,” said Rep. Watson Coleman. “It will provide a space for cultural events and social gatherings. It will be a venue for Trenton residents and visitors to enjoy. And it will set the stage to reconnect the Capital City and its people to the Delaware River, serving as a gateway to the city and making Trenton a destination for tourists seeking to learn and connect with our shared past as we approach the nation’s 250th Anniversary celebration.”

“The concept of a Capital Park has been put on hold now for nearly 15 years. It’s time to revive the project so that our capital community can enjoy the benefits of transforming the space into a welcoming and thriving environment,” said Sen. Turner. “For a community that has been historically burdened by environmental injustice, prioritizing the park would be extremely meaningful. After spending nearly $300 million on renovating the State House, the park would be the perfect finishing touch that everyone can enjoy – our residents, children, workers, and tourists.”

“It is amazing how many people care about this project and want to see Capital Park built,” said NJ Conservation’s Watson. “This green space would remove some of the pavement that consumed an incredible stretch of Trenton parkland over the years, severing the state capital from its magnificent Delaware River. We hope the governor and this legislature will approve funding for Capital Park as an investment in our city and in their legacy here.”

“Developing the first phase of the Capital Park as a capstone to the State House renovation should be a no-brainer,” said Peter Kasabach, executive director of New Jersey Future and a Trenton resident. “The future park site is currently being used as the staging area for the restoration and is ready to go. With a minimal investment, the state can leverage the restoration and add tremendous value to downtown Trenton. It would be a shame to miss this opportunity.”

The new park would be designed to manage urban stormwater challenges and improve city air quality through tree plantings. The trees would also increase shade in the area, reducing the urban heat island effect impacting the city.

“For far too long, urban communities in the state have largely been left out from accessing green spaces and parks within walking distance of their homes. We’re advocating for this investment in the state budget to help provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and relief from heat island effects for thousands of New Jerseyans who live in and visit our capital city,” said Ed Potosnak, executive director of NJLCV. “Many studies have shown the physical and mental health benefits, economic gains, and crime reduction in neighborhoods with parks. The Capital Park will also help address the impacts of the climate crisis by providing new stormwater management and green infrastructure opportunities. It will be both an environmental and economic boon.”

A sign-on letter to Gov. Murphy and state legislators urging them to fund the urban park project is available by visiting:

About New Jersey Conservation Foundation

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, statewide organization devoted to preserving land and protecting nature throughout New Jersey’s rural, suburban, and urban landscapes for the benefit of all. Since 1960, we have preserved more than 140,000 acres of open space, farmland, and parks. We also manage 17 nature preserves, conduct public outreach and education programs, and advocate for sensible land use and climate policies that will protect the health of New Jersey communities for generations to come.

About New Jersey Future

Founded in 1987, New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sensible and equitable growth, redevelopment, and infrastructure investments to foster healthy, strong, resilient communities; protect natural lands and waterways; increase transportation choices beyond cars; provide access to safe, affordable, and aging-friendly neighborhoods; and fuel a strong economy for everyone. New Jersey Future does this through original research, innovative policy development, coalition-building, advocacy, and hands-on strategic assistance. Embracing differences and advancing fairness is central to New Jersey Future’s mission and operations. New Jersey Future is firmly committed to pursuing greater justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through its programs, internal operations, and external communications.

About New Jersey League of Conservation Voters

New Jersey LCV is the statewide political voice for the environment. We work to elect environmentally responsible candidates to state and local offices. Working with our allies in the community, we advocate for strong environmental policies, support our environmental justice partners in pursuing more equitable policies, and hold our elected officials accountable during the legislative session. Through our political work we are strengthening laws that safeguard the health of our communities, working to help foster inclusion and justice, and protect the beauty of our state and our economic future.

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