CEDAR GROVE - Cedar Grove's new 77-acre park and the Robert J. O'Toole Community center is now open for business. Essex County Executive, Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. held a grand opening Monday to officially open the park and community center on Fairview Avenue in Cedar Grove.
The park developed on the site of the old Essex County Hospital Center, is the first county park in Cedar Grove and becomes the 23rd park in the historic Essex County Parks System according to Essex County Public of Information office.
The Robert J. O’Toole Community Center is named for Robert O’Toole, the township’s retired three-term mayor and 12-year councilman.
“O’Toole was a staunch advocate for limiting development on the property," DiVincenzo said. "We can think of no more appropriate person after whom to name the building."
“Thank you for dedicating this building in my honor and thank you, on behalf of the Cedar Grove residents, for this beautiful park," O'Toole said. "t will be enjoyed by many for generations to come.”
The park features two miles of walking paths through the park with historic lighting, a gazebo, benches and trash receptacles.
“For Cedar Grove to have a county park and a community building like this is unbelievable. We are looking forward to the generations of residents who will gain enjoyment from this,” NJ State Senator Kevin O’Toole said. “I have become a believer in Joe DiVincenzo, because when he says he is going to do something, he gets it done.'
Local officials attended Monday’s opening of the park and the community center.
“This is a magnificent structure, and it’s fitting to honor a person who is a role model for elected officials throughout the state,"noted Sheriff Armando Fontoura. "This is a great honor, because Mr. O’Toole epitomizes public service."
At the beginning of the entrance, there is a bronze plaque recognizing the lifelong accomplishments of Robert J. O’Toole. It begins with a quote from “The Yosemite,” by John Muir: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread and places to play in… where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.”
O’Toole served three terms as Mayor of Cedar Grove and three terms as Deputy Mayor during his 12 years on the Town Council. He retired from public office in 2015 after deciding not to seek re-election after serving three terms.
The Parlin-based engineering firm of CME Associates received a $650,000 contract to design the new park. JC Landscape Construction from Pequannock was awarded a publicly bid contract for $11.05 million to perform the construction work.
The Essex County Department of Public Works monitored the project. The $5 million project was funded from the NJ Green Acres program, a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund and the Essex County Capital Improvement Budget.