Over the last few years the city has been working on upgrading and renovating all of its parks and playgrounds throughout the municipality, as well as constructing new recreational facilities for the community.
On June 2, the city hosted a community block party for the grand opening of the new sprinkler/water park, and local kids participated in the official ribbon cutting ceremony along with Mayor Brian Stack and Commissioner Chris Irizarry.
"It took a little bit over a year [to complete]," said Irizarry, commissioner of parks and recreation. "We are extremely excited about the park because it gives kids a safe alternative to have a water park instead of being on the streets."
Irizarry also pointed out that in the past, due to the hot summer days, residents and kids open up the areas fire hydrants, which caused a safety issue. Now they have a safe place to go.
"This new park has [the same features] as Juan Pablo Duarte Park, which little by little we want to try and replicate all over the city," said Irizarry.
Splash time fun
Among the new features of the park are six large water spray toys for kids, two new basketball courts, as well as safety synthetic surfaces throughout the park. The children's playground also features color-coded safety surfaces, and the usual slides, swing sets, and seesaws.
"The original park was in disrepair and just run down," said Irizarry. "The contractors came in [renovated] the park and brought in better equipment."
"The half of the existing park on Central Avenue is a basketball court and the other half was an existing playground that had some older playground toys and facilities," said Ralph Tango, city engineer and associate of Schoor DePalma, Inc.
"Mayor Stack decided he wanted to upgrade the park, so the project included taking half of the playground area and turning it into a spray park to be used during the summer months," he added. "We also upgraded the [equipment] and the entire park has a synthetic rubberized surface for the safety of the children utilizing the playground. The park also received a general face lift, the fence was painted, and landscaping was installed with new flowers and shrubs."
The park also includes passive areas and benches for parents to enjoy some time under the shade of trees, while their kids get wet and wild. The total cost of the renovation was $295,195, which was paid for through grants from the county and community development grants.
However, while kids have been allowed to enjoy the park over the last few weeks, not all of the sprinkler systems are fully operational yet. The contractors will be revisiting the site to fix the remaining technical details, which will shut down the park over the next week.
"We're just working with the contactor [JRJ Engineering] to make sure the equipment is working properly," said Ralph Tango. "We had some parts that were damaged and need to be replaced, which will be done this [upcoming] week."
The park at 24th Street and Central Avenue is actually the city's second sprinkler and water park.
Juan Pablo Duarte Park, located at 34th Street and New York Avenue, was first opened during the summer of 2005, and features many of the same amenities now offered at the new water park.
An additional pool complex and outdoor gardens is also in the works for the new Doric Park, located at 16th Street and Palisade Avenue, which will include a water play area for kids, a wading pool, and regulation-sized lap pool. There will also be a landscaped garden walkway leading to an overlook balcony along the Palisades, which boast views of the New York City skyline.
Renovations at the existing site will begin soon, which includes the demolition of the Doric Temple, which is on adjoining property that currently holds programs such as the Union City Boxing Club and local Girl Scout troops.
These groups are in the midst to reaching out to the city for assistance in relocation.
Ellsworth Park, which is located at 24th Street and New York Avenue, is also slated for renovations said Irizarry. Jessica Rosero can be reached at email@example.com