Gov. Phil Murphy
United States of America

Dear Gov. Phil Murphy,

Your executive order to close all state and county parks, while intended to keep our communities safe, will deeply hurt Jersey City.

A large percentage of JC residents live in multi-unit buildings with no yard. Even for those who do live in houses, a proper lawn is a rarity. Instead, we go to the park. And in these times, we rely on those green spaces more than ever.

Over the past month, having a large, open park—an area of 273.4 acres­—in which to safely get some fresh air and exercise has been critical to our community's mental and physical health.

To close the one place where we’ve been able to consistently go and maintain a safe distance from others seems counterintuitive at best, dangerous at worst.

If the park is closed, it’ll be near impossible to go outside without breaking social distancing rules, particularly as it gets warmer. The sidewalks will become more crowded. And there will be more interactions—and risk—for law enforcement, who will be called on to manage that.

And let’s not forget about the kids. They’ve been away from their teachers and classmates for nearly a month now. They’re missing those interactions. And they’re losing the benefits of those interactions. But nature can help. Being outside provides numerous and proven benefits, from intellectual and social to emotional and physical.

Seeing that turtle bask in the sun, quietly following ducks across an empty baseball field, watching a hawk glide through the sky—they are also a source of joy.

What we can’t imagine bringing those same benefits, or joy, is zigzagging around the face masks and disposable gloves littering the sidewalks.

And, last but not least, with the streets of Jersey City being as pedestrian unfriendly as they are—with recent spikes in traffic injuries and fatalities—the park is the safer choice for children riding bikes or scooters.

Yes, police should be patrolling the park and breaking up gatherings. Anyone not following social distancing rules should be reprimanded. In addition, benches and potential high-congestion spots, like the pond area, could be marked as off limits. And there could be signs with a number for citizens to call if they see violators.

Also, in recent weeks, the park has been periodically closed to vehicular traffic to further increase the space available for local residents to utilize the park and practice social distancing. This would be a sensible practice to continue more permanently, and would allow local residents to use the park without encouraging people to travel to or congregate there.

But, to generally close the park to everyone is not the answer. It will only lead to overcrowding on the streets and the sidewalks. It will hurt the community’s mental and physical health. And then, it will help the virus spread.

We respectfully ask you to rescind your executive order to close our parks during this difficult time, when we need them most.

Rasika W. Boice & Rebecca Davies
Residents of Jersey City

We, the undersigned, call on Gov. Phil Murphy to please rescind Executive Order 118, closing all state parks, forests, and county parks.

The Reopen Jersey City's Lincoln Park petition to Gov. Phil Murphy was written by Rasika Boice and is in the category Health at GoPetition.