“This is a great use of existing facilities and it’s great that we are partnering with the County to get it done," West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi said. "We wanted to grow our recreation programs and needed additional fields, and Essex County Executive DiVincenzo stepped up to move this project forward."
The modernized fields will provide additional athletic fields to meet the needs of area youth recreation programs and are part of County Executive’s ongoing initiative to ensure that the County’s parks meet the changing needs of the community.
The project is projected to be finished by the spring of 2014. Sita Construction from New York was awarded a publicly bid contract for $236,487 to perform the construction work.
“Local recreation programs have a vital role in the development of our youth, teaching teamwork and sportsmanship, promoting physical fitness and helping to develop socialization skills," DiVincenzo said.
He added, "However, as these programs become more popular they place greater demands on the playing fields that are available. Sports activities were already being played at Turtle Back Rock, so it made sense to upgrade the fields to formalize the play areas and provide opportunities for our youth."
According to the county, the existing field and meadow will be regarded, and the Little League baseball field will receive a complete upgrade and a new youth soccer field will be developed.
The county detailed:
- the baseball field will have new fencing, back stop, infield clay surface, player benches and bleachers for spectators.
- The soccer field will have portable goals, netting and corner flags.
- The access roadway from Walker Road to the fields will be milled and repaved.
The West Orange Town Council later formalized the request in a resolution that stated: The popularity of the recreation programs offered by the Township’s Recreation Department, Mountain Top League, and West Orange Police Athletic League is steadily increasing, and expanding enrollment in soccer and baseball/softball programs has placed a burden on existing athletic fields in the township."
Former West Orange Councilman Sal Anderton is a proponent of the field.
“We can’t grow more land, so without additional field space we can’t offer new recreation programs for our youth. Partnering with the County to upgrade existing resources is a wise decision that will benefit future generations," he said.