"The people who made this park work so hard, and they will always be in my heart," said Betsaben Carrillo, 7. "I wish they would come here and I would tell them thank you for everything they made for us."
Accompanying the kids at the official ribbon cutting were local residents and West New York Mayor Albio Sires, along with members of the Board of Commissioners.
"This park took about a year to put together, and it was made half passive and half active," said Sires.
The active section of Weigand Park, which is about an acre all around, features a full playground set including swings, slides and the ever popular monkey bars, so kids, especially the younger tots from the neighboring Early Childhood Center and Public School No. 2, can take advantage of some outdoor activity during the week.
There is also a sprinkler feature, which kids will be able to run through to cool off during the hot summer months.
A break from the books
Special guests at the parks ribbon cutting Wednesday were Susan Guinaw's kindergarten class from Public School No. 2.
"The park is nice because it has swings and slides and you can glide," said Samantha Rodriguez, 5 ½.
"My kids were very excited and this was their second ribbon cutting this year," said Guinaw, who also accompanied her class to a ribbon cutting at New Jersey City University during a celebration for the Week of the Young Child.
"The park is nice and pretty and the children like it; I want to come here 100 times," said Betsaben.
"This is the first time the kindergarten class has visited the playground, so we will be here a little bit longer but then we will have to go back and continue our studies," said Guinaw.
With the close proximity of the park, the students of No. 2 School will hopefully have the chance to take more advantage of the playground during their break periods.
"I feel that at lunch time they will be able to expend some of the energy they have," said Guinaw.
Peace and tranquility
The passive section of the park features pathways and a variety of benched and shaded areas, where the adults, still children at heart, can also enjoy the park away from the playground. Part of the passive section is also elevated above the tot playground, so parents won't miss a step there child takes.
"The park is absolutely beautiful; everything from the fountain to the entrance is beautiful," said Emma Martinez. "I would always look at the park [while it was in construction] and said I would be in there someday, and look, now here I am."
The park also exhibits lush tropical landscaping and a warm Mediterranean concept of colors and architecture, which was envisioned by the mayor.
"I wanted it to look Mediterranean," said Sires. "That's why we have all these trellises. We added the fountain with all the carafes [that encircle the fountain], and the [Spanish style] roofs."
With the grand opening of Weigand Park, West New York has reached the culmination of its park renovation projects that were begun by Sires' administration. All of West New York's parks have been completely upgraded and restored.
"This is the last of all the parks; we have renovated all 19 parks in the town since I have been in the administration," said Sires.
Bringing back the park
Funding for the park renovations was made possible through federal grants advocated by Mayor Sires, including a $60,000 grant from Hudson County Housing and Community Development.
"It's from the County of Hudson Community Development Block Grant Program, which is federal funding that provides improvements to low income areas in terms of housing senior needs, and more," said Susan Mearns, division chief for Hudson County Housing and Community Development. "We have enjoyed a very long relationship with the town of West New York and certainly under the leadership of Mayor Sires. This park is a great accomplishment for all of us."
Bidding contracts to renovate the park were held about two years, which was picked up by Let It Grow Inc.
"This was our first project with West New York, and I am happy that we are at the culmination of this beautiful park," said Paul T. Imbarrato, owner and project manager.
However, there were a few obstacles to overcome before the park was able to take shape.
"[When construction started] there were quite a bit of hurdles to go over," said Imbarrato. "First we encountered shot rock that needed to be removed and two large oil tankers that were uncovered."
Sires remembered a large factory building in place of the park when he was growing up in West New York. After it was torn down, the oil tanks from the building were never removed until now.
"The basic ideology of the park includes a fountain, two playgrounds, sitting areas and a plaza, and large landscaping and irrigation," said Imbarrato.
Imbarrato gives much of the credit for completing the project to fellow workers Jim Musselman, the builder/site manager, and Foreman Juan Patino.
"They were here daily; these are the guys who built this place," said Imbarrato.
The original park was named after Father Weigand, who used to serve as the pastor for St. Joseph's of the Palisades on Park Avenue.
"That was the name of the park, so we kept it, and St. Joseph's of the Palisades is the second largest parish in the state," said Sires.
The park will be opened throughout the week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.