Quite a few recreational facilities and parks were recently built or proposed in Hudson County communities. Most prominently, Pier C Park on Hoboken’s south waterfront is under construction; the brand-new 33,000-square-foot Secaucus Recreation Center opened two months ago for residents of that town, and Jersey City released its “parks master plan” last year.
Along with the new facilities, most towns’ recreation departments are organizing free events and leagues for residents to enjoy year round.
Slimming down in Secaucus
The Secaucus Recreational Center opened to some controversy in December of 2008, since the project was approved by the City Council without releasing its final costs to taxpayers. Some still are concerned that they may end up paying for it if the facility doesn’t sign up enough residents for memberships, but a free five-hour tour of the event last weekend proved very popular.
The 33,000-square-foot center features a regulation-size indoor pool, an indoor running track with impressive views of the New York City skyline, a basketball court, and fitness equipment.
The center offers relatively inexpensive membership rates compared with privately-owned facilities that can cost upwards of $1,000 per year. An individual, one-year membership starts at $299 for adults, $175 for persons under 22, and other discounted packages for couples, families, and seniors.
A survey taken by the town last summer projected that 600 households, or a total of 1,500 residents, would be interesting in joining the center.
The town went to great lengths to ensure the center was also senior-friendly. With a number of elliptical machines that have a narrow tread, seniors can utilize the low-impact exercise machines without fear of injury.
Parks in Hoboken
Hoboken might be relatively small in size, but the city offers boundless free concerts, movies, and a series of lush waterfront parks. Pier A Park, one of the city’s most popular parks, draws thousands of visitors every year with its wide walkways and impressive views of New York City skyline. Without a public pool in the city, children can cool off in its large fountains or enjoy the “Movies Under the Stars” series that shows a free film once a week during summer.
On a neighboring pier, the city is building its long-awaited Pier C Park. Located at Sinatra Avenue and Third Street, the park will feature a fishing pier, play areas for children, and a picnic area with tables and grills. According to Director of Community Development Fred Bado, the project was slowed due to harsh winter weather, but should be completed on schedule in April.
In addition to Pier C, a fishing pier and waterfront walkway will also be completed around the Maxwell Place Park in April, allowing residents to walk along 90 percent of Hoboken’s waterfront.
Projected to begin construction in the summer of 2009 is a 2-acre park under the Park Avenue Bridge at 1600 Park Ave. The town hopes the park will revitalize the Hoboken/Weehawken Cove area.
Happy Birthday, Weehawken!
Weehawken is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2009, and is offering a host of events scheduled throughout the year for residents to enjoy. Along with the events, residents can utilize the new artificial turf installed on the football field in December, and a running track and recreation facilities that have been built along the Weehawken waterfront.
In addition, a 511-unit residential development was approved by the town last December for the Lincoln Harbor waterfront area. In exchange, the developers promised to give 1 acre of land and $3 million for recreational development to the town.
On March 15 – the same day of the incorporation of the township back in 1859 – there will be a reenactment of the first town meeting and a reading of the anniversary proclamation. In May, the township will honor war veterans from the past 150 years, spanning nine wars, with an “Old-Fashioned Memorial Day Parade.” The Hudson County Conservancy will hold historic walking tours throughout the township in August, beginning and ending at the historic Weehawken Water Tower.
In addition, the Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center provides free concerts to all music lovers throughout the year at locations along Boulevard East.
Weehawken recreation holds many summer programs for children, or the young at heart, including pie-eating contests, “Movies under the Stars” at the Waterfront Park, and arts and crafts programs at all of Weehawken’s recreational parks.
Jersey City is ready to roll
Jersey City is ready to build a new skate park at the Roberto Clemente Sports Complex on Ninth Street in downtown Jersey City.
The plan is part of the city’s Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, a long-range plan of proposed development. The plan that was introduced last year, currently includes 65 city-run parks covering 145 acres.
As part of the plan, Jersey City is in the process of renovating or expanding many of its parks. These include Bayside Park, Columbia Park, and Hamilton Park. A major expansion of Boyd-McGuiness Park on Duncan Avenue received a $150,000 grant from the county’s Open Space Trust Fund, and a proposed expansion to the Berry Lane Park will receive $1.2 million.
Jersey City’s Department of Recreation offers an array of activities for youngsters including indoor soccer, an expanded soccer recreation league, and a new boxing program. During the summer months, Jersey City has five pools open to the public where the city hosts “Learn to Swim” program with swimming lessons for children.
Along with the new facilities, many towns are organizing events for residents to enjoy year round.
North Bergen’s Recreation Department lures thousands of children and adults each year to its dozens of sports leagues and activities.
Last year, North Bergen recreational soccer coach Roberto Zuluga coached three of the town’s soccer teams to divisional championships, a new town record. According to Zuluga, the town has one of the best soccer programs in the area and their accomplishments last year are ample proof. Currently, the town has 24 recreation soccer teams available for players of all ages, divided into three divisions by age and ability.
Second park in Guttenberg
Guttenberg is hoping to begin construction on a new waterfront park on River Road in early spring. According to Mayor Gerald Drasheff, the $800,000 project will feature a picnic area and children’s playground, large open space for grass and trees, a walkway along the water, and a series of steps to the waterfront that can serve as seating for small concerts.
Guttenberg secured a $192,000 Green Acres Grant and a $400,000 Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund Grant for this project.
Union City’s new athletic stadium
The new Union City High School building is scheduled to open in September of 2009 after being postponed for a year. The facility at 2400 Kennedy Blvd. is on the site of the old Union City Roosevelt athletic stadium. With a price tag of $179 million paid for by a state grant, the facility houses both of the town’s high schools, Union Hill and Emerson, under one roof. With little vacant space in the city, the school will have a brand new rooftop athletic stadium, one of only a handful in the county.
In addition, Doric Park will open in June on the site of the old Doric Temple, near the intersection of Palisade Avenue and Ninth Street. The $5 million project will include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, water spray areas for children, a baby pool and space for greenery and benches, and was paid for by state and federal grants.
With eight other recreational parks and a number of co-ed sports teams, including baseball/softball, football, basketball, and soccer, Union City residents have a lot of to keep them busy throughout the year. Two public swimming pools will keep residents cool over the lazy summer months located in the Bruce Walter Recreation Center, 507 West St., and the Ron Dario Swimming Complex, 219 47th St.
West New York
West New York offers a bevy of recreational and sports activities to keep residents having fun throughout the year. Programs for both boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball clinics, adult volleyball leagues, and other sports leagues are offered in the winter months.
Seniors can keep in shape with a tai-chi program and senior bingo nights twice a week.
In addition to the leagues offered by the town, West New York’s Memorial High School has some of the best sports programs in the area, offering soccer, cross country, volleyball, tennis, and more open to both boys and girls.
Sean Allocca may be reached at SeanA@hudsonreporter.com.