16 Nov ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF ESSEX COUNTY WEEQUAHIC PARK PLAYGROUND RECONSTRUCTION

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Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced on Monday, November 16th that the project to reconstruct the playground by Building 92 in Essex County Weequahic Park with new equipment and a rubberized safety surface has been completed. The upgrades are part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to provide the safest and most modern recreation facilities for the Essex County residents.

“The playground in front of Building 92 in Weequahic Park is probably one of the most popular and heavily used recreation facilities in our Parks System. Children come to the site for recreation activities, after school enrichment, nutrition programs and more – there isn’t a time of year when the playground is not in demand,” DiVincenzo said. “Installing new equipment and a rubberized surface will ensure our facility meets current safety standards and will provide our children with much-needed opportunities to play,” he noted.

“We can’t thank the County enough for the investments they are making in Weequahic Park and throughout the county facilities in Newark. The playground completed today and the nearby Oval that is under construction display the County’s commitment to enhancing our residents’ quality of life,” Newark Councilman John James said.

“I want to thank the County for this new playground. Words can’t express how much we appreciate it,” Weequahic Park Sports Authority President Douglas Freeman said.Located in front of Building 92, the playground received its last facelift in 2006 when its nautical theme was introduced to connect it with the Weequahic Park Lake. The playground has become a focal point of the park and the extensive use has resulted in wear and tear on the equipment and rubberized safety surface.

The new playground features age-appropriate equipment for children ages 2-5 years old and 5-12 years old. For the younger children, there is a concrete treehouse structure in which to climb, animal figures, slides and telescopes. For the older children, there is another concrete treehouse, bridges, telescopes and animal figures. There are eight swings in the new playground, which is more than there were before. All of the playground equipment is handicap accessible. The rubberized safety surface is designed to resemble a wave of water to continue the themed connection to the park lake. The spray park and chess board surface incorporated in the last renovation have been upgraded. Additional seating for parents is located in areas around the playground. The playground is encircled by a fence to ensure children’s safety. Landscaping and irrigation around the outside of the playground has been added.

French & Perrello Associates from Wall Township received a $55,012 contract to design the new playground. Picerno-Giordano Construction from Kenilworth was awarded a publicly bid contract for $899,055 to perform the construction work. The Essex County Department of Public Works monitored the project to answer questions and ensure delays were avoided. The playground was funded with grants from the NJ Green Acres Program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. Work began in August and was completed in just three months.

Revitalizing Essex County Weequahic Park

In 2012, the four entrances to Weequahic Park received a facelift with traffic islands, lighting, paving and landscaping to beautify the area and enhance pedestrian and traffic safety, and the basketball courts were named in honor of the late Delano Gordon, founder of Above the Rim. Essex County partnered with the National Football League to install a new half-mile fitness course with six exercise stations in 2010. Weequahic Golf Course received a major overhaul in 2009 as part of $7 million modernization project in each of the County’s three public golf courses and the Weequahic Bridge was reconstructed for $3 million. A synthetic grass surface baseball field and four basketball courts were developed as part of a $1.8 million project in 2007. Essex County welcomed The First Tee and its nationally-recognized youth leadership training program to Weequahic Golf Course in 2006. The First Tee constructed a state-of-the-art, three-hole youth golf facility for its program adjacent to the golf course. The playgrounds at Building 92 near Meeker Street and Building 96 at the Chancellor Avenue entrance to the park were modernized with new equipment and rubberized safety surfaces in 2006. The tennis courts on Elizabeth Avenue were rebuilt in 2004.

DiVincenzo has partnered with the New Jersey Green Acres program, the NJ Department of Transportation, the Essex County Parks Foundation, Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Board and The First Tee to secure grants to fund the improvements in Essex County Weequahic Park.

The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system in the United States. It has been expanded to include about 6,000 acres of land and includes 20 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, miniature golf course, three dog parks, a castle, Treetop Adventure Course and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. Weequahic Park is 311.33 acres, is one of the original five County parks created in 1895 and is the second largest park in the Essex County System.