ivy hill playground opening 2017

Newark, NJ – On Thursday, July 6th, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced that the reconstruction of the Essex County Ivy Hill Park Playground with a new design, equipment and rubberized safety surface is complete. The project is part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to meet the needs of the community by providing modern recreation facilities throughout the Essex County Parks System.

“Playgrounds have become the focal points of our parks because of the opportunities they provide for recreation, exercise and socialization. Providing the most up-to-date equipment is important in Ivy Hill Park because the playground is across the street from Mt. Vernon Elementary School and the students depend on the facility for recess and gym class,” DiVincenzo said.

“Thank you to Joe DiVincenzo for projects such as this that are helping us rebuild the West Ward and the City of Newark,” Newark West Ward Councilman Joe McCallum said. “We appreciate our partnership with the County Executive because improvements to the playground helps us provide activities for children,” he noted.

The old playground equipment was situated on six “islands,” with each piece of equipment placed on its own pad. The equipment was installed over 15 years ago, and the facility was last updated in 2003 when a rubberized safety surface was installed. The natural grass area between the play islands would get worn from the large number of children who use the playground from the neighborhood and Mt. Vernon Elementary School, which is across the street.

In the new design, the six play areas have been consolidated into one 19,500-square-foot playground with a rubberized safety surface. There are two sets of traditional playground climbing apparatus and swings for children ages 2- to 5-years old and 5- to 12-years old. In addition, there is a cargo net climber and a cube climber. A fence was installed around the perimeter of the play area to prevent children from running off. Other work includes the installation of an enhanced drainage system, tree trimming and landscaping, and the installation of benches, tables, a bicycle rack and trash receptacles.

Remington & Vernick Engineers from Secaucus was awarded a $51,700 contract to design the new playground. Picerno-Giordano Construction from Kenilworth was awarded a publicly-bid contract for $989,731 to perform the construction. The Essex County Department of Public Works monitored the project and answered questions so that delays were avoided. The new playground was funded through the Essex County Capital Budget and with a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. Work started in April and was completed in three months.

Revitalizing Essex County Ivy Hill Park

Essex County partnered with Seton Hall University to upgrade the Mike Sheppard, Sr. Softball Field and four tennis courts in 2015. An 18-station fitness course, 53 ornamental light poles and a 300-foot long paved pathway in the western section of the park were completed in 2014. A second synthetic surface baseball/softball field was installed, two restroom buildings were renovated, and pathways and landscaping were enhanced in 2010. The garden recognizing the four students who were attacked in the Mount Vernon Elementary School playground was dedicated on April 7, 2008. A triangular stone wall – the three sides of the wall symbolizing Terrance Aeriel, Dashon Harvey and Iofemi Hightower who were killed – makes up the center of the garden. On the three outer sides of the garden, trees are planted in groups of three, again to symbolize the three students who lost their lives. A fourth stone wall that is part of the garden is meant to honor the bravery and heroism of Natasha Aeriel, who was seriously wounded during the August 4, 2007 attack. While recovering in the hospital, Natasha Aeriel worked with police to identify the suspects.

The three baseball/softball fields received an extensive overhaul in 2005. One of the fields received a synthetic grass surface, press box, scoreboard and dugout, while the other two fields received new sports fencing. A subsurface drainage system for the entire complex was installed to alleviate flooding. In addition, one existing basketball court near Mount Vernon Place has been replaced with two new basketball courts that are equipped with new lights and players’ benches.

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. Essex County purchased land for Ivy Hill Park in 1927. At 18.96 acres, the park is the seventh smallest in the Essex County Park System.