independence basketball soccer opening

Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced the completion of a project to modernize the basketball and volleyball courts and a soccer field with new playing surfaces in Essex County Independence Park in Newark on Friday, June 30th. The upgrades are part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to provide the most up-to-date recreation facilities.

“Essex County parks play a vital role in our residents’ lives, especially in the Ironbound, which is one of the most densely populated areas in the state. Independence Park is like an open space oasis that people of all ages rely on for recreation, relaxation, exercise and socialization,” DiVincenzo said. “Upgrading the basketball and volleyball courts and practice soccer field will ensure our facilities continue to meet the needs of our residents,” he added.

“Independence, Riverbank and Riverfront Parks are all true pictures of the commitment our County Executive has to improving the quality of life for our residents,” said Newark Councilman Augusto Amador. “Thank you County Executive for continuously investing in our parks,” he added.

The basketball courts and volleyball courts were rebuilt with a new asphalt surface and backboard and netting equipment, respectively. A small practice soccer field was modernized with a new synthetic grass surface. The original synthetic grass surface was installed on the practice field in 2007 when it was transformed from being an outdoor roller hockey rink. The facilities needed to be upgraded due to normal use by the public.

The upgrades were designed in-house by the Essex County Department of Public Works, which also monitored the project to answer questions and ensure delays are avoided. Sita Construction from Goshen, N.Y., was awarded a publicly-bid contract for $337,650 to perform the construction work. The improvements were funded through the Essex County Capital Budget. Work started in March and was completed in five months.

“We are happy and grateful for the opportunity to work with Essex County to complete these park improvements. It was a pleasure working with everyone on the County’s team to make this a success and we are glad the community will be able to enjoy these improvements,” said SITA Construction Co. Inc. Vice President Sandra Pepe.

Revitalizing Essex County Independence Park

In 2016, the playground was modernized with new apparatus and a rubberized safety surface. In 2013, the regulation-size soccer field received a new synthetic grass surface playing surface. In 2011, the softball/little league field at the corner of Van Buren Street and Oliver Street was upgraded with a synthetic grass surface and new fencing, and the field house was renovated. In 2010, the Senior Building received a comprehensive renovation. Essex County has worked cooperatively with the Down Neck Sports Community Group and SPARK to receive grant funding from the NJ Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund to fund improvements to Independence Park.

“This is a great improvement to our park. It is summer time and the children will all be out here able to enjoy this all summer. Thank you to County Executive DiVincenzo and Board of Freeholders for investing in all of our parks and improving the quality of life for the community,” said SPARK President Nancy Zak.

“We look forward to our continued partnership between Essex County and the Ironbound Soccer Club. We couldn’t do what we do without County Executive DiVincenzo and our partnership. These improvements are very special to us because our three and four-year-old participants kick their first soccer ball and begin to learn about the game right here on this soccer field,” said Ironbound Soccer Club Chairman Albert Coutinho.

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 23 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 and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. At 12.69 acres, Independence Park is the fifth smallest park in the historic Essex County Park System. Land for Independence Park was acquired in 1895.