18 Jun ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO ANNOUNCES PROJECT TO MODERNIZE PLAYGROUND IN ESSEX COUNTY BROOKDALE PARK New Playground to Feature Climbing Net, Picnic Tables, New Equipment and Rubberized Safety Surface


Bloomfield/Montclair, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced the start of a $1.2 million project to replace the playground in Essex County Brookdale Park with state-of-the-art equipment and a rubberized safety surface. The modernization is part of the Executive’s ongoing initiative to provide the safest and most up to date recreation facilities throughout the historic Essex County Parks System.

“The playground in Brookdale Park is one of the most heavily used facilities in our Parks System and the area has become a place for children and their parents to meet and socialize. Partnering with the Brookdale Park Conservancy, we were able to redevelop the playground and create a unique experience for our children that integrates the history and natural features of the Park,” DiVincenzo said.

“We conducted an on-line survey to find out what the community wanted to see in the new playground and over 500 people responded. I am thrilled to say that so much of their comments have been incorporated into the design,” said Mollie Smith, President of the Brookdale Park Conservancy. “We appreciate all the support that we have received from the County Executive and the Parks Department and we look forward to a playground that is modern and safe for our children,” she added.

“This continues the legacy of the County Executive of improving our open spaces,” Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill said. “Brookdale Park is a destination. You can see that by the number of children who come here on a daily basis. I have two young children and knowing that my children and other children in the community will enjoy this facility makes it worthwhile,” he added.

“I’ve been the Freeholders’ liaison to the Open Space Board since it was created and we have seen so much progress under the leadership of Joe DiVincenzo,” Freeholder Patricia Sebold said. “So many children enjoy the playground here and I look forward to seeing them play on the new one,” she added.

“I am very appreciative of all the things that the County Executive has done to revitalize Brookdale Park. And as a new father, I look forward to bringing my daughter here to play,” Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia said.

“We recently were here after the track and soccer field were resurfaced, the exercise course was completed and the historic lights installed. These are all things that bring energy to the park and contribute to our quality of life,” Glen Ridge Mayor Peter Hughes said.

“When my children were younger, we lived at the Brookdale Park playground. We look forward to the new one opening so new generations can enjoy it,” Montclair Councilor William Hurlock said. “This is another example of the great partnership between Montclair and the County,” he added.

The project includes the complete removal of the existing equipment and play surfaces and combines the four separate play areas into one large playground. The new consolidated design enhances safety by including children in one location and will make ground maintenance more efficient for parks staff. The entire playground will be enclosed with a four-foot tall chain linked fence. Play areas will be divided into two areas: age-appropriate apparatus for children ages 2-5 includes climbing structures that resemble a log crawl, monarch butterfly, turtle, rabbit and mushroom set and age-appropriate apparatus for children ages 5-12 includes a cargo net for climbing, space whirl, rock climber and swings. The playground will have a rubberized safety surface, drinking fountains, picnic tables, park benches, bicycle racks, trash receptacles and water misters. An existing pathway that connects the playground to the parking area will be reconfigured for handicap accessibility.

The original playground was opened about 14 years ago. Because of its age, it has been difficult to find parts to repair broken apparatus and several play attractions have been removed.

Remington & Vernick from Secaucus received a $52,975 contract to design the new playground. Tec-Con from East Orange was awarded a publicly bid contract for $1,222,410 to perform the construction work. The Essex County Department of Public Works will monitor the project to answer questions and avoid delays. The playground modernization is being funded with a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. It is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2015.

Revitalizing Essex County Brookdale Park

DiVincenzo’s administration has completed several improvement projects in Brookdale Park as part of a comprehensive initiative to revitalize the Essex County Park System.

The synthetic grass field and rubberized running track in the Oval were completed in May 2004 and was modernized with new grass and rubberized surfaces in 2014. In 2006, the meadow underwent an extensive $1.15 million renovation that included the installation of new drainage and irrigation systems, the planting of sod on the entire meadow surface and the modernization of the baseball/softball field in the northern section of the meadow. The development of the Brookdale Dog Park and the reconstruction of the 11-court tennis facility were completed in November 2007. In 2009, the Circuit Drive, the parking lots and the walking paths throughout the park were repaved. In 2014, a three-phase project to install 148 light poles at the park entranceways and around the walking paths and an 18-station fitness course were completed. These projects were funded with grants from the NJ Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. DiVincenzo has established partnerships with the Montclair United Soccer and Green Fields Foundation to obtain the grant funding.

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 22 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.At 121.41 acres, Brookdale Park is the third largest park in the Essex County System. Land for the park was purchased between 1928 and 1931.

Anthony Puglisi
Lauren Shears