FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Friday, August 21, 2020

 Artist Kelsey Montague (right) poses in front of the new Garfield mural with her sister and partner Courtney

Artist Kelsey Montague (right) poses in front of the new Garfield mural with her sister and partner Courtney

City of Garfield Mayor Richard Rigoglioso “catches the train” in front of the new mural in the River to Rail District

City of Garfield Mayor Richard Rigoglioso “catches the train” in front of the new mural in the River to Rail District

Mural Funded through DCA’s Neighborhood Preservation Program; Welcomes People to a Garfield Neighborhood on the Move

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is spotlighting and celebrating an inspiring mural located in the heart of the City of Garfield’s River to Rail District, which connects the Passaic River waterfront with the Garfield Train Station. Made possible with grant funding that was awarded in 2019 through DCA’s Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP), the 110-foot mural was completed on July 31, 2020, by world-renowned artist Kelsey Montague and her team after five straight days of work. 

The mural transformed a previously uninviting wall into a unique, eye-catching mural that gives residents, merchants, visitors, and train passengers passing by an authentic sense of place and the impression that Garfield is a community on the move. 

“We are so proud to have helped the City of Garfield and the River to Rail District make this mural a reality,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “Art has an amazing power to uplift people and inspire communities to dream big and reach their potential. This aligns with our Neighborhood Preservation Program, which strives to empower cities and towns to improve quality of life and strengthen neighborhoods.” 

The mural site at Passaic Street and Midland Avenue directly abuts the Garfield Train Station platform. It features a train/boxcars/station design that incorporates Garfield-centric elements such as a purple and gold color scheme; the Garfield “G” logo and 1898 inscription; and historic images of the former Ritz Theater and the Dundee Dam waterfall. A step and handlebar are affixed to the back boxcar of the mural so that people can interact with the mural, taking photos and video of them pretending to catch the train. 

Artist Kelsey Montague and her team, city workers, and staff from Greater Bergen Community Action, Inc., which runs the River to Rail District, can be seen installing the mural in a time-lapse video at

“It’s amazing to work with clients who want to offer something special for their community and that people here can really take ownership of and relate to and love and have fun with it,” said Ms. Montague, who is based in Colorado and has created more than 350 murals worldwide. “I hope you will come and visit this awesome town. It’s a really cool place.” 

“On behalf of the City of Garfield, we would like to thank Greater Bergen Community Action for helping to secure the NPP grant, which has enabled us to commission world-renowned artist Kelsey Montague. We thank Kelsey for creating the colorful Garfield locomotive mural at our downtown Passaic Street train stop,” said Garfield Mayor Richard Rigoglioso. “Kelsey’s piece has already added a vibrant and unique aspect for our vision on the redevelopment and revitalization of Passaic Street. The mural is Instagram-worthy and a must-see.” 

“Just as Kelsey’s creativity has transformed the Passaic Street train stop, so too does the Neighborhood Preservation Program help to transform entire neighborhoods,” said Robert F. Halsch, Jr., president and CEO of Greater Bergen Community Action. “Next up is 105 units of approved transit-oriented housing, business improvement grants, and much more. NPP makes a small investment go a long way,” 

Last year was the first time in 11 years that DCA awarded NPP grants. A total of $2.5 million in grant funding was awarded to 20 municipalities, including the City of Garfield. The grant funding was part of a larger effort by the Murphy Administration in 2019 to commit more resources to community revitalization programs that focus on small businesses and neighborhood improvement projects. 

The 20 current NPP municipalities are leveraging their $2.5 million total grant allocation with an additional $2.85 million of non-NPP resources from local government, private businesses and property owners, foundations, counties, other grants, and sponsorships. 

The NPP program provides direct financial, tailored technical assistance, and robust training to the 20 municipalities to conduct activities that strengthen threatened but viable neighborhoods through local planning, community participation, and local investment. Eligible grant activities include visible and tangible placemaking projects that enhance the communities’ economic value and quality of life, such as outdoor public seating, murals, wayfinding, gateways, crosswalks, and lighting. They also include commercial storefront and façade restoration, community development planning, residential property renovations, visual merchandising, historic preservation, support of community/neighborhood organizations, and public facilities improvement. 

Since COVID-19 struck New Jersey, the NPP program has also supported grants for affected small businesses, local business gift-card programs, personal protective equipment for businesses, and outdoor dining equipment and facilities for restaurants. 

The goal of the program’s longer-term commitment is to help towns build their local management capacity so that when the grant funding ends, they have the ability and the partnerships to sustain the work and keep making improvements. Municipal grantees must show a commitment of resources from the neighborhood and municipality, as well as support from community organizations and residents.   

For more information on NPP, visit

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including energy assistance, housing vouchers, affordable housing production, fire and building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery.

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Tammori Petty
Gina Trish
Lisa Ryan
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