In order to make sure the township’s downtown residents are as well served as those uptown, North Bergen has been busing youth to football practice and games, upgrading older neighborhood parks, and planning to open a new branch of the library.
In a 5.5 mile-long municipality, getting a ride to a sport or other activity can really help out.
“Our goal is to improve access for downtown residents to uptown amenities,” said Township Administrator Christopher Pianese.
The 10th Street Park’s jungle gym, mini-soccer field, and basketball court have been upgraded. The 28th Street Park is almost completely renovated as well. The jungle gym there has been moved from the Rt. 495 end to the park’s entrance, for easier accessibility and safety. A pathway and Victorian lights have been added.
“We’re 99 percent done. We’re waiting for the lights to be turned on,” Pianese said.
Commissioner of Parks Hugo Cabrera expects a ribbon-cutting for both parks in about two weeks.
Making sure township youth get to their recreational team practices and games is a high priority too, according to township officials.
“There’s a push for getting downtown residents to recreational programs,” Pianese said.
Cabrera was instrumental in implementing a busing program that takes recreational football players to their practices and games at the main field at 64th Street. The idea was suggested by Mayor Nicholas Sacco, and was well received.
“The mayor came up with it,” Cabrera said. “He wanted to get kids from downtown to uptown. We made it happen.”
“They wanted something down there -- and we gave it to them.” – Commissioner of Parks Hugo Cabrera
Another way downtown residents have been served is by the opening of the Kennedy and McKinley school gyms for basketball and Wiffle ball on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The “winter program” is enjoyed by 25 to 35 children per evening, and if the participation stays high, it will be extended.
“We’re going to keep it going into the summer,” Cabrera said. “If it doesn’t drop, we’ll keep it open.”
Now that the warm weather is here, the town will look at how to use the outdoor lots near those gyms. The town may install sprinkler caps for cooling off.
The township’s senior programs bus participants to activities like bingo from wherever their live.
But having parks renovated and getting rides to activities are not the only way downtown residents have been remembered.
The surveillance cameras used by the police, a staple in North Bergen’s business district, have been added to this township area.
“These last 15 were deployed to downtown,” Pianese said. “Fifteen cameras added to the system – and all downtown.” One of those cameras will be in the 28th Street Park.
The expected late-summer opening of North Bergen’s first library branch in its southern end, at Kennedy Boulevard and 21st Street, is part of this downtown-inclusive plan, according to officials.
Those wishing to sign up for the Kennedy and McKinley school gym programs should do so with a picture identification card at the Recreation Center, 64th and Meadowview Avenue, Cabrera said. For more information, call (201) 861-9601.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.