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Military Park Makeover

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Newark, New Jersey (My9NJ) - Newark just underwent a major redevelopment project which is taking place right across the street from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. This park, Military Park, was once a haven for drug addicts and the homeless. However, it is now making a new name for itself.

Historically, this area is where George Washington trained his troops during the revolutionary war and Thomas Edison made use of light bulbs in a public space for the first time.

Newark isn't known for it's safety or scenic parks. However, Newark resident, Jerry Dixon says that there is more to the area then many people know.

"It's part of the foundation of being in downtown Newark, and it's beautiful," he said.

Chairman of the Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission, Bill Mikesell, explains his past experience with this run-down park.

"When I got here at 7-7:30 in the morning, almost every bench had somebody sleeping on it, I had to look for an empty bench. Where NJ PAC now stands was where there was a large methadone treatment clinic and all the methadone people would wait here until it opened and then when it opened they all went over there and then they would get their methadone and then come back into the park," he said.

Dan Biederman's, President of Biederman Redevelopment Ventures Corporation, is in-charge of this project and has past experience revitalizing Bryant Park in New York City, which was also a stomping ground for drug dealers and illegal behavior. Biederman chimed in to explain what's in store for Newark’s newest project.

"The way to make the park feel good to the public is to have a lot of activity going on. So we just finished a Jazz concert, there's a reading room, and people were playing ping pong when we walked up," he said.

BRV Corporation has budgeted $250,000 a year for private security and will also utilize Newark police, NJ PAC, and the Prudential Center's patrols making the improved park a safer place for all.

Overall, this project costs $5 million to construct the five-acre park. So far, there is a new restaurant in place, new public restrooms, over an acre of new gardens, and two new plazas which will host dozens of free activities, including fitness classes, games, musical performances, art exhibitions, and more. The hope is to turn this new venue into a popular attraction for those who live and work in Newark.


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