The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) is pleased to announce that it has been named the recipient of a Chapter Award from the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (NJASLA) for the design of the Commission’s River Barge Park.
The Chapter award – the NJASLA’s highest honor – acknowledges the Commission for creating an ecologically sustainable site design by integrating strategies for stormwater management, habitat restorations, reclaimed timber and energy efficiency.
The Commission will receive the award at the NJASLA’s annual meeting in Atlantic City next week, marking the 28th time that the NJMC has been honored by the NJASLA for its design of Meadowlands District parks.
River Barge Park, located along the Hackensack River in Carlstadt, opened in May 2012. The 5.5-acre park provides the first public access to the river from its western banks in southern Bergen County in decades. The NJMC preserved the property, which was once slated for residential development.
The park, which sustained damage from Hurricane Sandy, is expected to reopen to the public on March 1. Bid offerings for seasonal rentals of public boat slips are scheduled to be announced in early spring.
The park’s construction incorporated and repurposed many existing elements from the property’s former use as the iconic Barge Club restaurant.
Vintage wood timbers were salvaged from three turn-of-the-century barges and used as framing in the park’s educational pavilion and as site furnishings, wheel stops and sign posts.
Nautical artifacts including bollards, channel markers and anchors from the Barge Club restaurant were restored to keep history alive and to give the park its special power of place.
A series of sign panels was designed to highlight the site’s colorful cultural and ecological history.
Sustainable site design features also include bio infiltration basins and native tree groves to absorb surface water and remove pollutants.
The parking areas and walking paths are constructed of porous materials to minimize run-off. In addition, the mudflat shore edge was restored to a low salt marsh habitat to benefit the area’s ecology.
River Barge Park provides a variety of boating activities for motor and human-powered boats.
Park amenities include a public boat ramp, 28-slip marina with handicapped accessible boat slips, catch-and-release fishing dock, canoe launch and riverfront promenade.
The education pavilion is located on land owned by the Meadowlands Conservation Trust.
River Barge Park is also the home of the NJMC’s highly popular pontoon boat cruises.
The leisurely, two to three-hour excursions are led by experienced NJMC staff who discuss the region’s human and environmental history and point out birds and other wildlife along the way. NJMC pontoon boat tours run from May through September. The 2013 schedule will be announced next month.