It’s just what the doctor ordered. With the heat soaring, two township initiatives couldn’t have come at a better time.
On July 8, township representatives officially opened the Kennedy School Mini-Spray Park at 1210 11th Street. Just a week and half earlier, on June 26, the same had been done with the newly renovated North Bergen Pool Spray Park at 2111 91st St., at the township pool complex.
Both venues give children a place to splash, play, and cool off in the summer.
The pool celebration included a ribbon cutting by Mayor Nicholas Sacco, township commissioners and other local officials. The Spray Park there allows young children to romp and play while their families visit the township’s pool complex.
Along with the renovated Spray Park, the township also recently completed construction on a new outdoor shelter at the pool, complete with solar roof panels. The structure will be used for parties and other pool events.
At the Kennedy School dedication, Sacco and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Hugo Cabrera were both on hand. A joint project of the township’s Recreation Department and Board of Education, the Mini-Spray Park gives North Bergen’s downtown children a place to cool off during the hot summer months. The park is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from now until the end of August.
“We wanted to do something to give downtown kids a fun place to enjoy the summer and get out of the heat, and this spray park will do that job well,” said Cabrera, who also serves as the Board of Education secretary and who organized the project. “With the township pool far uptown, we thought a downtown spray park would be a nice addition to the neighborhood.”
This Mini-Spray Park addition is part of an overall effort of the township administration to keep the downtown area well served. Other recent examples include the downtown recreation shuttle and the upcoming downtown library annex.
“We wanted to do something to give downtown kids a fun place to enjoy the summer and get out of the heat, and this spray park will do that job well.” – Parks and Recreation Commissioner Hugo Cabrera
So far, the park has been primarily utilized by children enrolled in the Recreation Department's "Summer Fun" program, and is used by about 50 children a day thus far. North Bergen officials believe its use will grow as residents hear about it.
The pool park
Funding for the pool spray park was covered by monies in the municipal budget, according to a North Bergen spokesman.
“The township believes it was a worthwhile project that merited funding because it gives North Bergen children an excellent new facility to enjoy in the summer,” said Philip Swibinski.
The accompanying outdoor event structure built at the same time cost $500,000, but was completely paid for by a grant from the Hudson County Improvement Authority at no cost to North Bergen taxpayers, he said, adding that its solar panels will also help to power the pool complex and reduce electrical expenses there.
The pool is used by hundreds of residents every day during the summer and is one of the township's most popular public facilities.
The old spray park was easily damaged and required a lot of maintenance, township officials said, whereas the newly renovated spray park is expected to be much more durable.
“It needed some repair,” said Sacco, “so rather than do it piecemeal, we put a really good spray park in the pool complex.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.