Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced on Wednesday, April 27th that the installation of a new synthetic grass playing surface on the Essex County Glenfield Park softball field has been completed. The announcement was made before a high school softball game between Glen Ridge High School and Columbia High School. The new surface provides young ballplayers with up-to-date conditions on which to play and maximizes usage of the field. The upgrades are part of the County’s ongoing initiative to revitalize the historic Parks System to ensure it meets the needs of residents.
“We are always updating our parks and recreation facilities to make sure our youth and other visitors have the most up-to-date field on which to play. These fields provide our youth with positive activities where they get exercise, build social skills and learn sportsmanship,” DiVincenzo said.
“I am very excited to be here. This is another example of what we can accomplish for our communities,” Commissioner Vice President Carlos Pomares said. “This is another great project by the County Executive that athletes from around the county will be able to enjoy,” Commissioner Brendan Gill said. They were joined by Commissioner Tyshammie Cooper.
“On behalf of Glen Ridge High School and our softball team, we are grateful for the renovations of this field. It’s great for our athletes and for the future of our program,” said Rachael Hogan, Glen Ridge High School Softball Coach.
“This is a great day. It shows what we can accomplish for our residents when we work together,” Montclair Councilor Bob Russo said.
“This is such a great facility and our sports and recreation programs will greatly benefit from the modern facilities,” said Glen Ridge Councilwoman Rebecca Meyer, who was joined by Councilwoman Ann Marie Morrow.
The softball field was first updated with a synthetic grass playing surface in 2009. After 13 years, the synthetic grass surface needed to be replaced due to regular wear and tear. Lighting at the field was upgraded with LED lights, which are brighter and more energy efficient. The scoreboard also will be replaced. The scoreboard has been delayed because of supply chain issues.
The improvements were designed in-house by the Essex County Department of Public Works, which also monitored the project to ensure delays were avoided. Landtek Group from Bay Shore, N.Y., was awarded a publicly-bid contract for $648,660 to perform the construction work. The improvements were funded with a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. The project took about four months to complete.
Revitalizing Essex County Glenfield Park
In 2018, the Wally Choice Community Center was renovated and updated. 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, five off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. Opened in 1910, Glenfield Park is about 20 acres. It is the 13th largest park in the Essex County Parks System.