Nutley, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced on Monday, November 30th that the facelift being provided to Essex County Yanticaw Park has been expanded in scope to include improvements to the bocce court, perimeter fencing and a decorative retaining wall. The addition of these two new projects means that a total of over $3 million is currently being invested to modernize recreation facilities and infrastructure and enhance access in the Park.
“Essex County Yanticaw Park is a tremendous community resource. Nutley’s sports teams play here, seniors stroll the tree-lined walkways and children play and climb in the playground. The improvements being made will modernize our recreation facilities and ensure the park continues to meet the public’s recreation needs for generations to come,” DiVincenzo said. “A great deal of work is being done at one time to enhance Yanticaw Park and there has been some disruption for people who use the park. We appreciate the community’s understanding and look forward to a completely revitalized facility when we are completed,” he added.
The bocce court located on Park Drive will be reconstructed and horseshoe pit will be added. New playing surfaces will be installed and a pavilion will be erected to allow play throughout the year. Stone swales will be constructed to aid in surface drainage. The improvements were designed in-house by the Essex County Department of Public Works. Let It Grow from River Edge was awarded a competitively bid contract for $340,760 to perform the construction work.
Perimeter fencing and sidewalks will be repaired or replaced where necessary, and the concrete steps at Passaic Avenue entrance and the Park Drive entrance will be repaired. Decorative retaining walls along Park Drive will be repaired and painted. Decorative lights will be installed in the lower part of the park and additional benches and trash receptacles will be installed. The improvements were designed in-house by the Essex County Department of Public Works. Caro Corporation from Florham Park received a competitively bid contract for $477,425 to perform the construction work.
“With these recent projects, we will have this beautiful new recreation facility for the public to enjoy. Under Joe’s leadership, there is no place in New Jersey where so much is being done to improve park facilities than here in Essex County,” Assemblyman and Freeholder Vice President Ralph Caputo said. “Carmen Orechio is a wonderful public servant and is well-deserving of this honor,” he noted.
“Joe, once again you are at it improving our park facilities,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura said. “We pledge we will do all we can so this place will remain safe and pristine so that everyone can enjoy these improvements,” he added.
A three-phase project to renovate Yanticaw Park began in June 2009. The improvements include the following:
· Phase 1: The John Henry Walker Field will receive a clay dirt infield with a synthetic grass outfield, an improved drainage system, new fencing, covered dugouts, a bullpen area, bleachers and handicapped-accessible seating for spectators. The scoreboard will be relocated behind the leftfield wall. The two other fields along Passaic Avenue will be re-graded to level the playing field on the two diamonds and address erosion. The smaller field will be realigned so there is less overlap in the outfield between the two fields. The fields will receive new clay infields, natural grass turf in the outfield, drainage and irrigation systems, covered dugouts, fencing and bleachers. In addition, pathways around the fields will be improved.
· Phase 2: Lighting and pathway improvements will be made in the western section of the park and the basketball court will be renovated. The lighting plan was coordinated with PSE&G and includes the installation of historic light poles. Pathways will be repaired where necessary. The basketball court will be rehabilitated with a new surface, lighting for night play and basketball equipment.
· Phase 3: The field house near the softball fields and the restroom building near the playground will be renovated. Both structures will receive modern bathroom fixtures, new windows, flooring, painting and lighting, and repairs to the buildings’ roofs will be made. The improvements will enhance the accessibility of the buildings to the public and will provide modern facilities.
All of the phases are underway simultaneously and will be completed by the spring of 2010. All five phases of the project are being funded with grants from the New Jersey Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund.
Essex County Carmen A. Orechio Recreation Complex
In addition, Essex County Executive DiVincenzo recently proposed to name the recreation complex in Essex County Yanticaw Park as the “Essex County Carmen A. Orechio Recreation Complex” in honor of Nutley resident Carmen A. Orechio. The honor recognizes the many contributions made by Mr. Orechio during his 40 years of public service as a State Senate President, Nutley Mayor and Commissioner. The Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously approved the ordinance during their November 12th meeting.
“Carmen Orechio loves the Township of Nutley and Essex County, and he personifies what it means to give back to the community. A public servant for over 40 years, Carmen helped shape the development and steer the progress in his hometown,” DiVincenzo said. “He was a staunch advocate for public safety, health care and services to benefit children and senior citizens, and the legislation he sponsored have enhanced the quality of life for generations of our residents. Naming the recreation complex after Mr. Orechio is the highest tribute we can present to an individual who has contributed so much,” he added.
“I am humbled and awed by this gesture by the County Executive,” Orechio said. “There are so many great things happening in the park and it looks beautiful,” he added.
A lifelong resident of Nutley, Mr. Orechio was first elected to the Nutley Board of Commissioners in 1968 and served as the Director of Public Safety, which includes Police, Fire and Code Enforcement, for 25 years and as the Director of Public Affairs for 12 years. He also served three terms as Nutley’s Mayor between 1972 and 1996. Mr. Orechio recognized early that public safety could be enhanced greatly with the creation of a regional unit to respond to and address emergencies involving hazardous materials. He oversaw the creation and development of the Nutley HAZMAT Squad, which responds to emergency calls throughout Essex County, and helped provide the resources to enable the squad to develop into one of the premier, cutting edge HAZMAT Squads in the country.
In 1973, he was elected to the New Jersey State Senate and was chosen to serve as Senate Majority Leader in 1981 and Senate President from 1982 to 1985. He chaired the Law Revision and Legislative Services Commission, screening all appointments by the Governor to the Judiciary and Executive branches, and served on the Governing Board of the State Law Enforcement Planning Agency. During his years in Trenton, Mr. Orechio was a strong advocate for legislation in the areas of health, childcare, senior citizens and law enforcement and is remembered by his colleagues for helping to ease tensions between political parties by organizing informal softball games. He retired from the Senate in 1991.
Mr. Orechio is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Clara Maass Hospital Foundation and the Garden State Cancer Center, President of the Nutley Old Guard and is involved with the Nutley UNICO chapter. He also is the Chairman of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, which is New Jersey’s largest distributor of drinking water and a national leader in the development of higher water quality standards and enhanced homeland security measures. He was presented with the “Keys to Essex County” by County Executive DiVincenzo during the inaugural Essex County Community Stars Award Ceremony in 2008 and was recently inducted into the Nutley Hall of Fame. During World War II, Mr. Orechio served as a member of the U.S. Army in Europe.
Revitalizing Essex County Yanticaw Park
In 2003, the playground near Centre Street was upgraded with new equipment and a rubberized safety surface as part of the County’s Executive’s initiative to modernize playgrounds in every County park. In 2006, the playground was named the “Essex County Frank A. Cocchiola Playground” in honor of the late Frank Cocchiola, who served on the Nutley Board of Commissioners for 28 years. Pathways were repaired in 2006 and Park Drive was reconstructed and repaved in 2008.
The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system in the United States. It has been expanded to include about 6,000 acres of land. There are 18 parks, four reservations, a zoo, ice skating rink, environmental center, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, a golf driving range, miniature golf course, three off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. Land for Yanticaw Park was acquired between 1911 and 1914. At 28.75 acres, it is the 11th largest park in the Essex system.