Earlier this year, Middlesex County purchased the aging Wolfson Deck from the New Brunswick Parking Authority with plans to locate a downtown park in the center of New Brunswick. The County has owned the 525-car parking garage several times before, and this time it acquired the deck from the city for $4.1 million. Closure of the Wolfson Deck was delayed two years due to protests from the neighboring churches and businesses; however, county and city officials are now ready to move forward with planning the future park. The Trust for Public Land (2011) recommended New Brunswick improve park spaces in the urban core, particularly by ensuring they are sufficiently-sized and well-developed. The goals would be to improve unequal access to parkland and promote urban redevelopment.
New Brunswick, New Jersey, is one of the densest cities in Middlesex County, second only to Perth Amboy. Its 55,275 residents live within 5.8 square miles. New Brunswick residents are primarily white and ages 18-24. However, since 2000, the number of Hispanic residents has increased by nearly 60 percent. The city’s population almost triples during regular business hours because it is the county seat and home to major institutions including Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, Johnson & Johnson, and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. The city includes a variety of land uses, but the amount of residential and mixed land use in the city’s core is increasing. This is especially true near the Wolfson Deck area, which is a 1.12 acre site. New Brunswick already has a better than average amount of public and park space. Unfortunately, monument Square Park and Boyd Park, the facilities closest to the new park site, have access and use issues stemming from size and location. Improving access and use issues is key to ensuring all residents benefit from the downtown park.