31 May ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO ANNOUNCES OPENING OF PLAYGROUND IN ESSEX COUNTY VERONA PARK
Verona, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced that the project to modernize the playground in Essex County Verona Park has been completed on Wednesday, May 30th. The improvements are part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to revitalize the historic Essex County Parks System and ensure parks facilities continue to meet the needs of the community.
“An ongoing priority of my administration has been to provide the most up-to-date recreation facilities throughout our historic Parks System. This ensures our children, families and residents have modern and safe places to play and relax, and our open spaces continue to provide opportunities for exercise and respite as well as contribute to our residents’ quality of life,” DiVincenzo said.
“Our County Executive never really stops working and he should be complimented for his passion. Just look around at all he has done throughout the Parks System, including right here in Verona Park,” Freeholder President Brendan Gill said. “I am happy to know that we are providing recreation facilities that are the most up-to-date and safest,” Freeholder Len Luciano said.
“Thank you for putting this magnificent new facility in Verona Park. It’s just been opened and already it’s being heavily used,” said Verona Mayor Kevin Ryan, who was accompanied by Councilmen Ted Giblin and Jack McEvoy and Business Administrator Matthew Cavallo.
The playground was updated by removing the existing equipment and rubberized safety surface and installing new apparatus and rubberized surfaces. The playground was redesigned and incorporates the topography of the land in the play area. Slides and other features have been built into hills so children do not have to climb ladders to reach the top of the slide; they just walk to the top of the hill. There is a large climbing structure in the center of the play area and apparatus for children ages 2-5 and 5-12. The last time the playground was updated was in 2003 when a rubberized safety surface was first installed. The equipment needed to be replaced, having become worn and outdated from the amount of use the playground receives.
Arterial Design Studio from Montclair received a $49,500 contract to redesign the playground. APS Contractors from Paterson was awarded a publicly bid contract for $1,384,505 to perform the construction work. The Essex County Department of Public Works monitored the project. The improvements were funded with grants from the NJ Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. Work started in September 2017.
Revitalizing Essex County Verona Park
The restroom facilities in the boathouse and in a comfort station in the park were modernized in 2014. A $1 million project to upgrade the pathway lighting and repair the dock at the boathouse was completed in 2012. A five-station fitness course, landscaping upgrades and improvements to the Verona Lake Dam were completed in 2008. The two projects totaled $1.4 million and were funded with grants from the NJ Green Acres program, Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s infrastructure improvement trust fund. In 2004, a Children’s Garden with an amphitheater was created, the tennis courts were modernized, a restroom building near the playground was constructed and the park entrances were enhanced as part of a $1 million upgrade, also funded with grant dollars.
The Verona Park Lake was dredged and a rubberized safety surface was installed in the Verona Park playground in 2003. The dredging project was started by the previous county administration and was plagued by delays and mismanagement until DiVincenzo restored oversight and held the contractors accountable. In addition to the dredging, landscaping to prevent erosion was planted along the banks of the lake, a 1.2-mile health walk was restored and benches were replaced. Essex County also spent $230,000 to install a rubberized safety surface and new drainage system at the playground in Verona 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. Verona Park is 54.32 acres, making it the fifth largest in the Essex County Park System. The land was acquired in 1920 by the Essex County Park Commission and the Olmstead Brothers were commissioned to design the park.