Nutley, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. joined with representatives from the Nutley Educational Foundation and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission to announce plans to create an outdoor classroom in Essex County Yanticaw Park on Tuesday, July 19 th . The learning facility is located in close proximity to Nutley High School along the Third River and would be utilized to inspire students in the middle and high schools to learn about science and the environment.

“Our parks are extraordinary natural resources that residents depend on for recreation and respite. But they also have great potential as education resources and provide endless opportunities to raise awareness about the environment and teach appreciation for nature,” DiVincenzo said. “We applaud the Nutley Educational Foundation and Passaic Valley for bringing us this idea to create another opportunity for young people to enjoy the outdoors and our open spaces,” he added.

“The Nutley Educational Foundation is thrilled to be partnering with PVSC and Essex County to create this extraordinary space for both the Nutley School District and the entire community. This project speaks directly to our mission and is what NEF strives to do,” NEF President Lorraine Kucinski said. “We’d like to thank our dedicated science professionals Mr. Kent Bania and Mrs. Lynn Zazzali along with John H. Walker Middle School Principal Mrs. Tracy Egan for spearheading this initiative and helping it come to fruition,” she added.

“This is such an exciting opportunity for our students and teachers, and extends learning beyond the four walls of the classroom,” Nutley Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lynn Glazer said.

“The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission is proud to partner with the Nutley Educational Foundation and the County of Essex to provide what will be a beautiful outdoor classroom and amphitheater in Essex County Yanticaw Park,” Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission Chairman Thomas Tucci, Jr. said. “We hope that Nutley school children and residents of Essex County will be able to enjoy this unique learning environment for years to come,” he added

The idea for the classroom originated after the nearby Bloomfield School District developed a similar outdoor learning facility in Clark’s Pond in 2012. Science teachers from the Nutley School District presented the idea to the Nutley Educational Foundation and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, and gained permission from Essex County to utilize the space.

The outdoor classroom consists of three tiers of seating, approximately 30 feet in width, to be built into the natural slope of the park. There would be enough seating to accommodate about 30 students. A podium of reclaimed wood would be installed in front of the stadium seating. Students would be looking toward the Third River when sitting in the outdoor classroom. Overgrown brush in the area will be removed and new
landscaping and additional trees will be planted.

“This project is an example of different agencies working together and pooling resources for the benefit of our students and educators,” Assemblyman Ralph Caputo said.

“This is a tremendous project to get children outside,” Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill said. Freeholder Patricia Sebold, a retired teacher, said she would have jumped at the opportunity to bring her students outside. “This is a great vision when it comes to innovative education opportunities,” Freeholder Leonard Luciano said.

Nutley Mayor Joe Scarpelli thanked the County, NEF and PVSC for partnering together. “It will be exciting to see students learning outside in the fresh air,” he added. School Board President Charles Kucinski called the classroom “a wonderful opportunity for Nutley” and a “great addition.”

The Nutley Educational Foundation raised about $3,600 to purchase the supplies to create the classroom. The PVSC will provide the labor to construct the facility.

Revitalizing Essex County Yanticaw Park

In 2003, the playground near Centre Street was upgraded with new equipment and a rubberized safety surface as part of the County’s Executive’s initiative to modernize playgrounds in every County park. In 2006, the playground was named the “Essex County Frank A. Cocchiola Playground” in honor of the late Frank Cocchiola, who served on the Nutley Board of Commissioners for 28 years. 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 was renovated, 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.

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