21 Mar ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO ANNOUNCES PLANS TO MODERNIZE THE WALLY CHOICE COMMUNITY CENTER IN ESSEX COUNTY GLENFIELD PARK
Montclair, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced plans to renovate the Wally Choice Community Center in Essex County Glenfield Park on Tuesday, March 20th. The upgrades are part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to modernize parks and recreation facilities to ensure they meet the community’s needs.
“The Wally Choice building is heavily used for a variety of recreation programs, community meetings, activities for senior citizens and events for local organizations. The renovations will ensure residents have up-to-date and welcoming accommodations and the building is able to meet the needs of residents,” DiVincenzo said. “Since the building is a focal point of the community, we are fast-tracking the construction to make sure there is minimal disruption and work is completed before the summer. This will ensure children who participate in the Grass Roots camp, basketball programs and other activities can enjoy the upgrades for the entire summer,” he noted.
“I am happy the County Executive is making such a significant investment in our parks. Glenfield was the park of my youth, and it is amazing to see how it has evolved with the new playground, tennis and basketball courts and other facilities,” Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson said. “I’m looking forward to when the project is completed and seeing children at play and seniors meeting in the community center,” he added.
“We are very excited to see this building being renovated because it is well used by people of all ages in the community,” Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation Executive Director Albert Pelham said. “In the fall last year, Joe said this project was going to start and he had kept his word,” he added. MNDC has a contract with the County to manage the community center and provide recreation programming in the park.
“On behalf of my family, we appreciate all the efforts being made to carry out the legacy and dreams of my father to make this community great. He has been a rock of this place for so long,” Wally A. Choice said about his father Wally Choice, founder of Grass Roots.
The Community Center, named for Montclair Grass Roots’ founder Wally Choice in 2009, will receive a complete makeover. Restrooms will be upgraded with new fixtures to meet current ADA codes; the kitchen will be modernized with new equipment; the ceiling and floor tiles will be replaced; HVAC, fire alarm and lighting systems will be upgraded, interior and exterior walls will be painted and refinished; and exterior lighting will be upgraded. The paved area in front of the community center also will receive a facelift. The asphalt surface will be replaced with brick pavers and a new driveway onto Maple Avenue will be created so motorists do not have to drive through the park to reach the parking area. New landscaping will be installed. Work started in early March is scheduled to be completed in June 2018.
USA Architects from Newark were awarded a $168,500 contract to design the upgrades to the Wally Choice Community Center and a comfort station in Essex County Brookdale Park. Barreto Dowd Landscape Architects from Howell designed the new parking lot. Daskal Construction from Wallington was awarded a publicly-bid contract for $1,103,660 to perform the construction work. The Essex County Department of Public Works will monitor the project to ensure delays are avoided. The improvements are funded with grants from the NJ Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund, and the Essex County Capital Budget.
Revitalizing Essex County Glenfield Park
In 2017, the tennis courts and basketball courts, named for the late Bobby Hurt, were resurfaced and new equipment was installed. In 2015, the playground and restroom building received a facelift. In 2009, the community center was named as the “Essex County Wally Choice Community Center” in honor of Montclair resident Wally Choice, who has been President and Executive Director of Montclair Grass Roots, a community organization that has provided recreation and educational enrichment programs for children, for half a century. In addition, the football field and two softball diamonds were modernized that same year. The football field and softball diamond near the community center were upgraded with new irrigation and drainage systems and resurfaced with sod to improve playing conditions. Football and soccer goals were installed on the field. A synthetic grass surface was installed on the softball field in the eastern section of the park.
In 2006, a major facelift included rehabilitating the tennis and basketball courts, developing a new horseshoe pit, repairing the perimeter wrought iron fence, installing an eight-station exercise course, enhancing the aesthetics of the park entranceways, installing new picnic tables, repairing the community building and field house, and removing dead trees and branches. Essex County partnered with Montclair Grass Roots to obtain funding from the New Jersey Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund.
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.