NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The pandemic has wreaked havoc on planned public events and celebrations for New Providence residents, Mayor Al Morgan lamented at the Monday, June 22 council Zoom meeting. However, he was optimistic that the community will get through these trying times as it has always done.

On a positive note Recreation Director Bernadette Cuccaro gave an overview of the summer programs as the state is beginning to loosen some restrictions. She noted that Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 149 allows no-contact practices starting June 22 at the borough fields. Several sport clubs, including PAL baseball, the soccer club, MB Reds and men’s soccer have all requested field space. Contact practices and games are permitted to begin on July 6. All organizations that have requested field space have been sent guidance for sports activities issued by the Department of Health, she explained. Additionally, the organizations are required to have a preparation plan in place prior to beginning play.

The basketball courts also opened on June 22 for non-contact drills, and regular play can resume on July 6. Lights are on at the pool basketball courts as well as at the tennis courts, Cuccaro said. Currently tennis reservations are available for New Providence residents only. Reservations are available for courts 1 through 4, courts 5-8 are open only until their scheduled upgrade project begins. Cuccaro noted that there are no bathrooms open anywhere in the borough recreation facilities this summer. She added that playgrounds in town remain closed at this time; however, this may change soon.

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The playground camp will begin at Oakwood Park starting July 6 for six weeks. Each day runs from 9-11:30 am. Cuccaro noted that the borough was not able to hire a lot of kids this year because of the strict guidelines by the Department of Health. In addition to teachers and some camp counselors the borough is only hiring 13 kids who have worked at the camp during previous years. There are no new hires this year, she said.

Additionally, the U.S. Sports Institute (USSI) will be able to facilitate two tennis camps, two multi-sport camps, and two soccer camps this summer. The USSI is also offering weekly 45-minute preschool classes, Cuccaro said.

The online STEAM academy offers 12 classes during Week 1, 16 classes during Week 2, 14 classes during Week 3 and 11 classes during Week 4. Cuccaro explained that the turnout to sign up has been very good. The Rec Department is also offering 19 different music classes online. Furthermore, the Senior Center is offering different Zoom classes every day, she added.

Councilwoman Michele Matsikoudis explained that the Tricentennial Committee launched the “300 Stories” project on June 24. Councilman Matthew Cumiskey noted that the borough may not be able to host the Green Day event scheduled for the fall. On the other hand, the borough is investigating the possibility of organizing a drive-in movie night.