Shortly after Field Station: Dinosaurs made its debut in Secaucus in May 2012, the town waged a battle with Hudson County to keep a portion of the $10 fee visitors are required to pay to use the attraction’s parking lot, arguing the parking fee is really an environmental impact fee. Despite a bitter war between town officials and certain members of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, Secaucus emerged from this fight victorious.
The town is now ready to share the bounty with residents.
Last year, according to Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, the town collected an impressive $175,000 from the parking fee and the money is now being used to build and renovate municipal parks and recreational spaces. One of the first parks to benefit from the money is the new dinosaur-themed water park on Valley Court, which opened to the public last month.
Fittingly, the water park offers a tiny taste of the Field Station: Dinosaurs experience for children who might be too young to visit the larger exhibit near Laurel Hill Park, which can be overwhelming for some. In recent weeks, crews have been unpacking small dinosaur replicas that recreate the Field station: Dinosaurs experience, but on a much smaller scale.
“Our plan all along was to use the impact fee we received from that park to improve our parks and open spaces in Secaucus,” Gonnelli explained. “So, we’re using that money to make some improvements to our Little League field. Other parks in town will be renovated. This particular park, on Valley Court, is a new water park that will be a nice outdoor community space for younger children.”
Last year, Secaucus collected $175,000 from the Field Station: Dinosaurs parking fee.
“We’re going to be creating public murals all over Secaucus to make the town look better, aesthetically, but also to create awareness through art,” Dargan explained. The town has applied for a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to help cover the costs of this public art project.
A teacher by profession, Dargan said she hopes to “teach kids how to paint murals over the summers when I’m not teaching in school” if the town gets the grant.
In recent weeks Dargan has spent several hours sketching and painting the Valley Court mural and said she hopes to have it completed next month, weather permitting.
The prehistoric-themed mural features dinosaurs set against mountains, streams, volcanoes, and other settings.
Two other artists, Tina Kirvin and Diana Saha Albert, have also contributed painted panels to the mural project at the park.
Portions of the park are still under construction, and Gonnelli said the water features won’t be operated until the weather gets a little warmer. But most of the park’s playground equipment is in place and ready for use.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.