WEST ORANGE, NJ - Before the ribbon was even cut on August 14, the new Nautical Playground was filled with parents and children dashing excitedly about in a pretty spectacular addition to Essex County Joe DiVicenzo's South Mountain Recreation Complex in West Orange.
"Twelve years ago I had a vision for what I wanted to do," DiVincenzo said. "People said, 'what are you doing? Are you crazy?' Now they're saying, what took you so long?"
The Nautical themed playground, located on Cherry Lane by the new Walkway, Clipper Picnic Pavilion, and Paddle Boats, boasts separate areas for children up to age five and older children up to age twelve. However, based on the enthusiastic comments of the parents and teens present, it's going to be pretty hard to keep the grownups off the ultra-cool installations.
In another mind boggling feat the County managed to complete construction of the playground in eight weeks at an approximate cost of $1.3 million. The project was conducted in partnership with the City of Orange, who entered into a 20-year lease agreement over the Orange Reservoir property in October 2012. Essex County will pay a total of $1.6 million to Orange to lease the Reservoir property and will be responsible for all costs to maintain and develop the site for public recreation. The playground was funded through the Essex County Capital Budget and a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund.
On hand for the ribbon cutting were DiVincenzo, Senator Theresa Ruiz, Freeholder Pat Sebold, and Orange councilpersons Jamie Summers-Johnson, Kerry Coley, and Harold Johnson, Jr., along with county officials and members of the Beaver Electric Company in Roseland, who built the playground.
The playground boasts 24 separate pieces of playground equipment atop a rubberized safety surface; a synthetic grass surface and is surrounded by a chain link fence to keep children from wandering off.
DiVincenzo noted that there would be "no more development at the site," saying instead that more landscaping was the only plan, along with maintaining the property and keeping it clean.
Said Jennifer Cerruto of West Orange, "That place is great; we were so impressed. We're lucky to have so many great options in West Orange."
But don't take our word for it. Check out the photos of the opening and make plans to bring the kids to enjoy West Orange's latest free attraction at South Mountain Recreation Complex.