Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


Dundee Island Park Combines Recreation, Green Infrastructure, Art, and Indigenous History

Project Name: Dundee Island Park

Revitalized park that combines accessible recreation, public art, and green infrastructure to improve quality of life for the whole community of Passaic.

Primary Partner Team: City of Passic; Passaic County, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; The Trust for Public Land; MKW + Associates; Boswell Engineering


“There’s going to be the park for kids to learn how to ride a bike. There’s going to be benches and bleachers to watch the games. There’s going to be a gazebo. There’s going to be brand new trees planted,” said the mayor of Passaic, Hector Lora, of Dundee Island Park. “It’s really to highlight nature and make sure our families have the opportunity to go out and really enjoy.”

The project sought to redevelop Dundee Island Park in order to address historic concerns around flooding and safety in the area, as part of a tributary that runs into the Passaic River. While the park’s land was previously open to public use, the park was frequently overrun by flooding, and often had a number of unhoused people camping in the area, making use of the land less accessible for community members. The City and the County of Passaic, as well as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Trust for Public Land, MKW + Associates, and Boswell Engineering, worked together to implement a sustainable design for flood remediation and public use, involving huts raised on stilts among other flood-resilient infrastructure. The City of Passaic is very developed, with limited permeable surfaces for the absorption of flood water. Parks like Dundee Island Park offer a mitigation measure in response to flooding related to severe storms like Hurricane Ida, which caused 29 deaths in New Jersey, many related to flooding in the Passaic River. Dundee Island Park offers a means of promoting equitable access to nature and community health in the face of the climate crisis.

The park is in an underserved community, now serving as a major attraction for families and community members given its accessibility to pedestrians and the range of recreational activities available to visitors. Beyond its sustainable design measures, the park includes walking trails, spaces for playing sports and participating in other recreational activities, and a community outdoor auditorium. The project also incorporates public art into its design, facilitating a beautiful and accessible public space for community members to enjoy. Dundee Island Park also recognizes the land’s history as sacred lands of the Lenape people, demonstrating a commitment to environmental and racial justice implicit to the implementation of the project. 

The project’s attention to sustainable, climate-resilient design, coupled with a commitment to meeting the needs of local community members, aligns with a commitment to smart growth and sustainable development that is so tied to the award. Dundee Island Park demonstrates a commitment to inclusion and accessibility through the revitalization of a formerly blighted parcel of land, creating a storm-resilient, safe place for community members to spend time outdoors. In the face of accelerating climate change, Dundee Island Park truly embodies the spirit of ‘think global, act local’ in its small-scale measures for climate adaptation in the community of Passaic.


See all 2022 Smart Growth Awards winners

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