CEDAR GROVE, NJ – Cedar Grove’s new county park and community center should be complete by the end of 2016. 

According to Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, ground will be broken on the 77-acre county park on May 12 and the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The 5,000-square-foot community center to be built in the park will be named for former Cedar Grove Mayor and Councilman Robert J. O’Toole.

During his presentation at the Township Council meeting Monday night, DiVincenzo talked about how long the township has waited for this park which comes as result of the Hilltop Redevelopment agreement which was approved by the Township Council in June after more than 20 years of negotiations. During those negotiations, DiVincenzo noted how O’Toole advocated for a county park for the township. 

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“A young man named Robert O’Toole made sure that a big part of those negotiations included giving Cedar Grove its own county park and he would not drop it,” DiVincenzo said. “And I heard him loud and clear and I made a commitment that we would build a park. I am naming the community center after Robert O’Toole for his initiative and for all the good work he’s done for the township of Cedar Grove.”

The one-story community center will have a main room that seats 150 people. The room will be fully furnished and include a two-sided gas fireplace that can be enjoyed from inside the center or outside on the patio. In addition, the center will have a full-service kitchen and two sets of bathrooms, one for the use of community center guests and one for the use of playground patrons so they will not have to enter the center to use the bathroom facilities. 

The passive park will also have a gazebo, a playground with separate equipment for younger and older children, covered bocce courts, a walking/running path approximately 1.5 miles long, exercise stations and ample parking.  A multi-purpose turf field had originally been included in the plans that were presented in September, but has since been removed. 

In addition, the Blasi baseball field at the corner of Grove St. and Bradford Ave. will be rebuilt by K. Hovnanian with a new turf field, scoreboard and lights. DiVincenzo said he did not have a timeline on when that will occur. 

DiVincenzo said the cost of the park is $11 million, $5 million of which he was able to secure from the state’s Green Acres Program. The county is contributing $6 million.  When the project is complete, Cedar Grove Park will be the fourth largest of the 23 Essex County parks.

The plans and renderings of the park will be available at the Cedar Grove Public Library for residents to review.