A $1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) will aid in the 10-year effort to restore Branch Brook Park in Newark, N.J. The grant will help support installation of a new surface on the park's Lenape Trail Walking Path, as well as create a pedestrian entrance to the Essex County Urban Farm greenhouses.
Representing RWJF at a ceremony recognizing the Foundation's contribution were Thomas H. Kean, chairman of the Foundation's Board of Trustees and former New Jersey governor; and RWJF Senior Program Officer Marco Navarro.
Restoration of the park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead—widely acknowledged as the founder of American landscape architecture—is in keeping with the Foundation's mission to improve the health and health care of all Americans, Kean noted in his remarks during the ceremony.
"Branch Brook's two-mile Lenape Trail walking path and the park's Urban Farm would make Olmsted proud," Kean said. "They are just the kind of improvements needed to help the people of Newark and throughout the state, increase their physical activity, and support healthier eating."
Kean added, “When I look in a park, I see faces of people getting better health and better lives, and this new walking track will be such an important part of that."
Navarro, in his remarks, observed that the Foundation's contribution is likewise in accord with its long commitment to the state, and he added, "we are proud to join the many other funders, friends, and supporters of this wonderful park."
A highlight of the event was the dedication of two new park benches: one honoring the Foundation, another recognizing Kean's lifelong service to New Jersey.
On January 2, 2013, the Branch Brook Park Alliance hosted a ceremony recognizing the Foundation's million-dollar grant to the park restoration effort. Here are some photographs from the event.