The federal agency that will decide the future of the 150-year-old Harsimus Branch and its historic Embankment launched a review of historic assets that would be affected by a proposed permit to abandon the railway and demolish the Embankment. In 2000, the Embankment was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and the Coalition believes the longer Branch should be listed as well.
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) Office of Environmental Assessment introduced the review process, mandated by the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106, to a packed room of consulting parties at Casa Colombo on Monmouth Street. The review is supposed to identify historic assets along the Branch, assess any adverse effects upon them, and determine how to avoid those effects.
Most attendees represented local and regional organizations that wish to preserve the Harsimus Branch and prevent the deleterious effects its destruction would have on the historic fabric of Downtown. Many of these organizations, including the Embankment Preservation Coalition, will be weighing in on the findings of historic resource consultants, initially hired by Conrail and now reporting to the STB, who will make recommendations to the Board. Other organizations represented included most of the Downtown neighborhood organizations, Civic JC, Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, NY/NJ Baykeeper, and Rails to Trails Conservancy.
The Coalition encourages other groups and individuals to comment during the review period, closing dates for which have not been determined. Contact the Embankment Coalition for more information and to arrange a presentation on this subject..