PATERSON, NJ - Paterson’s Lou Costello Park is set for a $1 million makeover, including the city’s first ever playground with autistic children in mind. The funding, Mayor Andre Sayegh announced, will come from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars.

Recalling the time the globally famous Costello, born and raised in Paterson, threw out the first pitch at his youth baseball game, Congressman Bill Pascrell said that “he loved this city.”

Fast forwarding decades, Pascrell then spoke of the 1992 opening of the park that has since fallen into disrepair and become an all too frequent resting place for visitors seeking something other than family friendly activities.

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That will all change once the renovation is completed, Bob Guarasci, Founder and CEO of the New Jersey Development Corporation (NJCDC) said. His organization, he added, has been focused on the area for the past 25 years and it was they that decided “something had to be done” with the space, choosing to apply for, and subsequently receive, a planning front from Passaic County.

Offering his confidence that they would remake the park “in a grand way," Guarasci predicted it will become a place where for generations to come families and children will be able to enjoy the park, complete with the playground and performing arts area.

With students visiting from nearby School 2, Cheryl Coy, Chief Special Education Officer for Paterson Public Schools, praised the park renovation, saying that it will enhance their ability to “educate the whole child.”

“This is subtle communication of a strong message,” Coy said, that “in Paterson no one is excluded.”

Costello himself would “be beaming with pride," the comedian’s grandson, also Lou, said. “He never forgot Paterson, what it gave him as a child,” most notably the drive and competitiveness to thrive in a difficult business that he said was developed in local parks and boxing rings.

“This is part of a broader plan,” Sayegh concluded, sharing his vision for days to come when visitors arrive in Paterson, stop in the park, and move on to the Great Falls, including the planned visitor’s center.