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Aerial view of Nat Turner Park Aerial view of Nat Turner Park Shot of the front of the park Shot from the steps of the stadium Kids playing in the park

Recreation for Newark’s Central Ward

Providing recreation for the 19,000 people of the Central Ward, Nat Turner Park is the largest city-owned park in Newark.

The reuse of historic fill material beneath an environmental cap dramatically reduced truck trips and kept more than 30,000 cubic yards of material out of landfills.

2010Distinguished Award, American Council of Engineering Companies (New Jersey)


In the 1970s, community activists in Newark asked the city for green space that could be used to create a park for the Central Ward. The city bought several acres of land across from the Felix Fuld Housing Complex and near the 18th Avenue elementary school, but left it undeveloped. For decades it was a vacant lot where children played pick-up football games.

In 2002, the Trust for Public Land led a collaborative effort with the city government, public schools, and Central Ward community to turn this urban brownfield into Nat Turner Park, named after the leader of a 19th century slave rebellion.


Mott MacDonald was retained by the Trust for Public Land to provide design development, construction documents, and construction administration for the new park. Planning, design, and construction took about two years, while actual construction took nine months.

Nine acres in size, the new Nat Turner Park is the largest city-owned park in Newark. The park opened in July 2009, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mayor Cory Booker, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, and White House official David Agnew.

Nat Turner Park includes a 400-meter regulation track with a resilient surface, a playground, a seating area with a metal arbor, a multi-use area, walking paths, park benches, trash receptacles, a decorative metal perimeter fence, metal entrance arches, and lawn areas, and more than 200 trees. Pop Warner football teams play on a synthetic-turf field.

The park also features a 200-seat amphitheater decorated with ceramic tiles created by more than 150 community members and honoring the musical history of Newark.


Nat Turner Park provides recreation for a neighborhood of 19,000 people, including 7,000 children.

The combined efforts of our team of environmental and design professionals resulted in the development and implementation of a remedial strategy which addressed environmental issues in a cost and time-efficient manner, while ensuring the protection of human health and the environment.

  • The incorporation in the design of almost 240 trees and other native plants mitigates potential urban heat-island effects. Plantings in the active recreational facility improve air quality by removing particulates, reducing runoff and providing shade and evaporative cooling.
  • The full cut-off design of the pulse-start metal halide light fixtures reduces glare by eliminating almost all light above the horizontal plane of the lens.
  • Our integrated remedial and site design program allowed historic fill material to be reused as an on-site gross fill beneath an environmental cap. This dramatically reduced truck trips and kept more than 30,000 cubic yards of material out of landfills.
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