21 Jul ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF TWO PROJECTS TO MODERNIZE RECREATION FACILITIES AT ESSEX COUNTY WEST SIDE PARK Football Field, Track, Basketball and Tennis Courts Receive New Playing Surfaces

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Newark, NJ – On Friday, July 21st, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced the completion of two projects to modernize the recreation facilities in Essex County West Side Park. The first project included installing new synthetic playing surfaces on the football field and track; the second project included updating the basketball and tennis courts with new surfaces and equipment. Updating the athletic facilities will ensure athletes of all ages – from youth recreation leagues to high school competitions to members of the community – have modern places to play and compete and is part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to provide the most up-to-date recreation facilities throughout the Essex County Parks System.

“When we first took office in 2003, the facilities in West Side Park were among the worst in the County Parks System. We made a commitment to update the playing areas so children here would have the same recreational opportunities as other places – and we fulfilled that promise,” DiVincenzo said. “These facilities get a great deal of use by the community and it was time to come back and update the football field, track, and basketball and tennis courts with modern equipment. The improvements we made will ensure the facilities are maintained at a high level,” he added.

“The County Executive and Freeholder Board are on the same page when it comes to making sure our parks and recreation facilities are in the best condition they can be. It’s great to see that people in the community are already taking advantage of the renewed facilities,” Freeholder Rufus Johnson said.

“We are grateful for the amount of attention the County Executive has made to improving West Side Park. The upgrades to the community center, playground and now the athletic facilities provide our community with modern places to play. We couldn’t be happier and look forward to continuing our partnership with Essex,” United Community Corporation Executive Director Craig Mainor said.

The football field received a synthetic grass surface and the running track received a rubberized surface in 2006 when the sports complex was first upgraded. The basketball and tennis courts were upgraded with new playing surfaces, equipment and sports lighting in 2004. In addition, to the new court surfaces, benches, trash receptacles and drainage upgrades are included. Due to regular use, each of these recreation facilities needed to be replaced.

The football field and track improvements were designed in-house by the Department of Public Works, which also monitored the project and answered questions so that delays were avoided. Landtek Group, Inc. from Amityville, N.Y., received a publicly-bid contract for $848,968 to perform the construction work. It was funded through the Essex County Capital Budget. The project started in early March and was completed in four months.

The basketball and tennis court improvements were designed in-house by the Department of Public Works, which also monitored the project and answered questions so that delays were avoided. Picerno-Giordano Construction from Kenilworth receive a publicly-bid contract for $257,295 to perform the construction work. It was funded with a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. The project started in April and was completed in just three months.

Revitalizing Essex County West Side Park

In 2004, a 22-car parking lot was created, the main park entrance was revamped for better access, restroom facilities near the tennis courts were renovated, and the park entrances along 17th Street were enhanced. In 2006, a major aesthetic renovation of the lower section of the park was undertaken. In the spring of 2007, the New Jersey Tree Foundation beautified the park by planting 40 new trees inside the park and along the park’s perimeter. A synthetic grass baseball field was installed and the locker room and rest room facilities were renovated in November 2007. In 2009, a new spray park with climbing apparatus and a synthetic safety surface was developed. In 2015, the Community Center received a complete renovation with new flooring, windows, doors, HVAC system and lighting. In 2016, the playground was modernized with new equipment and a rubberized safety surface and the parking lot was expanded.

Essex County Executive DiVincenzo has partnered with the New Jersey Green Acres program, the Amelior Foundation, MCJ Foundation, the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Board, West Side Park Conservancy, Tri-Cities Peoples Organization, United Community Corporation, the Boys and Girls Club of Newark and the Essex County Division of Housing and Community Development to secure grants to fund the improvements made to Essex County West Side Park.

The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 23 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, three off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. West Side Park is located on 31.36 acres of land in Newark’s Central Ward and is the ninth-largest park in the County’s system. Land for the park was acquired in 1895 and West Side Park was one of the original five parks in the Essex system.