yanticaw playground groundbreaking

Nutley, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced plans to modernize the Frank A. Cocchiola Playground in Essex County Yanticaw Park on Thursday, April 12th. The current playground was one of the first parks revitalization projects undertaken by the County Executive when he took office in 2003. New apparatus and a rubberized safety surface are needed at this time because of regular wear and tear on the playground. The project is part of DiVincenzo’s ongoing initiative to ensure parks facilities are up to date and able to meet the needs of the community.

“This is the first consecutive year that we have been taking another look at the playgrounds in the historic Essex County Parks System and updating the facilities that are experiencing wear and tear because of heavy use. Our parks are popular gathering spots, especially our playgrounds, and it is important for us to provide modern equipment that is safe for children and able to meet the needs of the community,” DiVincenzo said. “This playground is appropriately named for the late Frank Cocchiola, who served as a Nutley Commissioner and devoted his life to improving the quality of life in his hometown and creating opportunities for youth,” he added.

“My father was parks and recreation commissioner for 28 years, and he always wanted the parks to be a catalyst for family activities. Joe has been at the forefront of doing this in the County Parks System and we appreciate that,” said Frank Cocchiola, son of the late Commissioner Frank Cocchiola. “We’ve taken our grandchildren to this playground as a way of teaching them about my father and when 11-month-old Salvatore is ready to walk, we’ll bring him here too,” Cocchiola added about his grandson, who he held in his arms while speaking at the podium.

The playground will have two traditional climbing structures, one for children ages 2-5 years and one for children ages 5-12 years. There will be eight swings for children ages 5-12 and three swings for children ages 2-5. Handicap accessible swings and parent/child swings also will be installed in the play area. A cargo net climber will be located in the middle of the playground and smaller climbing apparatus, a “spinner” and a mister also will be part of the playground attractions. A covered seating area will provide shade for parents who are watching their children at play. Paved areas for stroller parking and bicycle parking will be located off the park pathway. A four-foot fence will keep youngsters from wandering off.

“The Freeholder Board is proud to be partners with the County Executive on projects such as this that benefit our children,” Freeholder Len Luciano said.

“Thank you, Joe, for upgrading the park and making continual investments in Yanticaw Park,” Nutley Mayor Joseph Scarpelli said. “I remember this playground was one of the first projects undertaken by the County Executive after he took office and now it’s time to upgrade this facility again,” he added.

Remington and Vernick from Secaucus was awarded a $58,000 professional services contract to design the new playground. Aps Contracting from Paterson was awarded a publicly-bid contract for $997,540 to perform the construction. The Essex County Department of Public Works will monitor the project to answer questions and ensure delays are avoided. Funding is being provided through the Essex County Capital Budget. The playground is scheduled to be completed this spring.

It has been about 16 years since the playground was updated. After taking office, one of DiVincenzo’s first initiatives was to modernize playgrounds throughout the historic Essex County Parks System. In 2006, the County Executive dedicated the playground as the “Essex County Frank A. Cocchiola Playground” in honor of the longtime Nutley Commissioner and community leader. Mr. Cocchiola served on the Nutley Board of Commissioners for 28 years.

Revitalizing Essex County Yanticaw Park

In 2003, the playground was upgraded with new equipment and a rubberized safety surface and, in 2006, it was named the “Essex County Frank A. Cocchiola Playground.” Pathways were repaired in 2006 and Park Drive was reconstructed and repaved in 2008. In 2010, the John Henry Walker Field and two baseball fields along Passaic Avenue were renovated and regraded, pathways in the western section of the park were repaired, the basketball court and the field house on Park Drive was renovated, the bocce court was modernized, perimeter fencing was repaired, and sidewalks and steps were reconstructed. Also in 2010, the three fields off of Park Drive were named as the “Essex County Carmen A. Orechio Recreation Complex” in honor of Mr. Orechio for his more than 40 years of public service as President of the NJ State Senate and Mayor and Commissioner of Nutley. In 2016, Essex County partnered with the Nutley Educational Foundation, Nutley Public School District and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission to develop an outdoor classroom and amphitheater on the banks of the Third River.

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. Land for Yanticaw Park was acquired between 1911 and 1914. At 28.75 acres, it is the 11th largest park in the Essex system.