NEWARK, NJ — Essex County officially opened the new community center and renovated gymnasium at West Side Park in Newark on Monday, Dec. 19. The West Side Park Community Center is the fourth building in the Essex County Parks System to receive a total makeover under a new initiative to modernize infrastructure in the parks.
“Our county parks have become destinations for our residents and it has become evident that our community buildings can no longer accommodate the level of activities taking place. The new community center building is significantly larger and provides more suitable space for gatherings, enrichment programs, and other community meetings and events,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said. “This project would not be possible without the support of Gov. Phil Murphy, who provided a state grant for the project. Gov. Murphy understands the needs of Essex County and recognizes the benefits developing a new building will bring to West Side Park.”
“Because I have two children, my family is always in the parks, regardless of how cold it is. What the county executive has done to improve our open spaces is recognized throughout the state and today is just another example of that,” Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin said.
“This is head and shoulders over the old facility and demonstrates Joe’s commitment to communities throughout the county,” acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II said.
“This is a magnificent place and our office will work with all of our partner agencies and the residents of the neighborhood to keep it as safe and pristine as possible,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura said.
“I am thankful for the vision of our county executive and his understanding of the needs of our residents. He has made West Side Park into a destination,” Newark South Ward Councilman Patrick Council said.
“We are saving young people and helping prepare them for the future with buildings like this and the programs that will be held here,” Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff William Payne said.
The former brick building adjacent to the gymnasium was demolished to make way for a new 7,500-square-foot community center. There is a large community room for events, two classrooms for smaller programs and computer classes, a professionally equipped kitchen, restroom facilities, and space for offices and storage. The existing gymnasium was given a comprehensive facelift along with new HVAC and lighting systems.
The parking lot in front of the building was reconfigured and a circular driveway under a covered drop-off area by the front door was created. The basketball courts were rebuilt alongside the new building on South 17th Street and the tennis courts were relocated near the football field complex on South 13th Street.
The new West Side Park Community Center was designed similarly to recent community center projects completed in Cedar Grove Park, Watsessing Park in Bloomfield and Weequahic Park in Newark. Other projects in which community centers are being constructed are the Wally Choice Community Center in Glenfield Park in Montclair and the D. Bilal Beasley Community Center in Irvington Park.
The original West Side facility was constructed in 1987. It received various renovations since then, with the last improvements being made in 2015.
Comito Associates from Newark was awarded a $528,000 professional services contract to design the new building. Tsivicos Enterprises from Neptune was awarded a publicly bid contract for $7,400,000 to construct the building. The Essex County Department of Public Works monitored the project. Essex County received a grant from the state to fund the project.
County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr., Essex County Parks Department, Newark City Council, Phil Murphy, Sheriff Armando Fontoura, Theodore N. Stephens II, West Side Park
County opens community center, renovated gym at West Side Park in Newark added by Editor on December 26, 2022
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