BLOOMFIELD / MONTCLAIR , NJ - Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced the opening of the renovated Welcome Center in Essex County Brookdale Park on Friday, June 8th. Work to modernize the bathroom building at the Brookdale tennis courts is nearing completion. The upgrades are part of the County Executive's ongoing initiative to update parks infrastructure to ensure they meet the needs of the community.

"The open spaces and recreation facilities in Brookdale Park are well utilized and it is important that the public has access to first-class accommodations. The Welcome Center is centrally located in the park and the upgrades will ensure that it will continue to meet the needs of park visitors," DiVincenzo said. "We are pleased to be partnering with the Brookdale Park Conservancy, who requested the facilities be upgraded. Providing updated facilities makes our parks more user-friendly and allows the public to enjoy the open space for longer period of times and feel comfortable coming here," he added.

The renovation and the opening of the Welcome Center were appreciated by members of the Brookdale Park Conservancy and local elected officials.

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"I compliment the County Executive for getting things done despite having a difficult winter to work through. What's really important are the things that have been done to improve Brookdale Park, including the track, playground, fields and this building. This is one of the premiere parks in the County because of this investment," Freeholder President Brendan Gill said. "The project is a testament to the County Executive's leadership and his collaboration with the Freeholder Board and Conservancy to get things done in a team-oriented way," Freeholder Carlos Pomares said.

"I want to thank the County Executive and Conservancy for making Brookdale Park such a special place," Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson said.

"The renovation was needed to bring this building into the 21st century. I thank the County Executive for his vision and for working with the Freeholder Board, municipalities and Conservancy to make the park look great," said Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia, who was joined by Bloomfield Councilman Nick Joanow.

"Our biggest thank you is for the County Executive for giving Brookdale the attention it needs. I also want to thank our volunteers and supporters, and look forward to utilizing the space we have in this building for educational programs," Brookdale Park Conservancy President Mollie Smith said.

The Welcome Center is centrally located in Brookdale Park and is adjacent to the Tom Fleming Athletic Complex, the playground and meadow where soccer activities are held. It was completely renovated with new ceilings, wall and floor tiles, restroom fixtures, lighting, and HVAC units. A room inside the building was outfitted for the Conservancy to host meeting and educational programs. Outside of the building, new paved walkways and an outdoor meeting area with an information kiosk were created and new landscaping was planted. Similar improvements are being made to the restroom building at the tennis courts. Construction there is ongoing and is scheduled to be completed shortly.

USA Architects from Newark were awarded a $168,500 contract to design the upgrades to the Welcome Center and the tennis courts building. Their contract also included designing improvements to the Wally Choice Community Center in Essex County Glenfield Park. ZN Construction LLC from Saddle Brook was awarded a publicly-bid contract for $930,000 to perform the construction work. The Department of Public Works is monitoring the project to ensure delays are avoided. The project was funded with grants from the NJ Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund, and through the Essex County Capital Budget. Construction stared in April and the Welcome Center was reopened in less than three months.

Revitalizing Essex County Brookdale Park

DiVincenzo's administration has completed several improvement projects in Brookdale Park as part of a comprehensive initiative to revitalize the Essex County Park System.

The synthetic grass field and rubberized running track in the Oval were completed in May 2004 and was updated with new grass and rubberized surfaces in 2014. In 2006, the meadow underwent an extensive $1.15 million renovation that included the installation of new drainage and irrigation systems, the planting of sod on the entire meadow surface and the modernization of the baseball/softball field in the northern section of the meadow. The development of the Brookdale Dog Park and the reconstruction of the 11-court tennis facility were completed in November 2007. In 2009, the Circuit Drive, the parking lots and the walking paths throughout the park were repaved. In 2014, a three-phase project to install 148 light poles at the park entranceways and around the walking paths and an 18-station fitness course were completed. In 2015, the playground was updated with new climbing apparatus and a rubberized safety surface. These projects were funded with grants from the NJ Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. DiVincenzo has established partnerships with the Montclair United Soccer and the Brookdale Park Conservancy to obtain the grant funding.

The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 23 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, three off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.At 121.41 acres, Brookdale Park is the third largest park in the Essex County System. Land for the park was purchased between 1928 and 1931.