WAYNE, NJ – Chances are you’ve taken advantage of the myriad of services offered by Wayne’s Parks and Recreation Department over the years. If not, it could be that life is too busy for you and a little recreation is what you need. Or, maybe you aren’t aware of all of the great things that our town’s rec department could offer you.
At the far back of the Wayne municipal building is the office with the answers you may be looking for to perk up your life. Parks and Recreation is where the fun in Wayne is created, and worth a visit just for the people who work there.
“We have some fun here,” said Director Tim Roetman, “but when it comes to productivity, my team takes their jobs seriously.
Maria Melendez and her beaming smile greets you at the front desk while behind her are Marie Harden and Kim Rossi along with Kevin McArdle who sits behind the corner. Ryan Edge is the Landscape Supervisor and Roetman leads the group.
The Director took a circuitous route to land back in the same town he grew up in. A Wayne Hills High School graduate and former camp counselor at the Wayne Boys and Girls Club, Roetman went on to Montclair State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. After college, he interned at ESPN Radio in New York City, then bounced around from job to job. Realizing that competition was fierce for paid broadcasting jobs, Roetman applied for, then got the job as an assistant Director for the Tenafly Recreation Department.
“I just fell into municipal government, and over time learned to be proficient in admin and found out I had a talent for grant writing,” said Roetman. These skills served him well, as he worked his way up the municipal ladder. His next stop was in Livingston, then he took his first Director’s job in Morristown before moving to West Milford and finally being recruited by Mayor Chis Vergano to come work for his hometown of Wayne.
“I wouldn’t have guessed it back in college, but this is really my dream job,” said Roetman with a laugh. “I’m having a good time planning and running events, with this great team of people who make it all happen.”
Roetman counts his blessings saying: “Mayor Vergano and the entire Council recognize the importance of our Department. Parks and Recreation draws new residents to the community and it keeps the residents here, and keeps them happy.”
There are twenty-five town-owned public parks in Wayne, that are all heavily utilized. Most know of the James Roe Memorial Family Aquatic Park that boasts swimming pools, water slides, basketball courts, bocce courts and more. Laurelwood Arboretum is a well-known name as with Terhune Memorial Park, AKA Sunnybank. However, of the smaller parks, “There are some that you wouldn’t even know about unless you live around the corner,” said Roetman, adding: “Each is unique and walkable, and you feel safe when you’re there and you feel safe letting your kids go to the park down the street.”
There are several parks that boast historical significance to Wayne Township including one that Roetman is clearly proud of. “The Van Riper Hopper House is a museum to Wayne’s past. It’s a symbol of the traditional Dutch colonial architecture, and one of the few homes in this entire area that’s still standing from the 1700s.”
If you’re into history, the Dey Mansion, a former headquarters for George Washington during the Revolutionary War is well-worth a visit as well.
If hiking is your thing, then head up to High Mountain Reserve Park.
As far as events, the Parks and Recreation Department always has something happening. The fall slate of events is just beginning, with bus trips to New York City to see Ain’t Too Proud on Broadway or to Warwick, New York for a winery tour. You can also travel to a NY Red Bulls game, the 9/11 Museum or to Radio City to see the Rockettes.
There are fun STEM events at Idea Lab for young scientists, piano and guitar lessons for up and coming musicians and tennis lessons for the athletes, adult ceramics classes, dance classes for anyone with any abilities, a shopping trip to Woodbury Commons and discount tickets to Great Adventure.
In late October is the annual Fall Frolic/Boo Fest held at the Wayne YMCA with hayrides, food trucks and children’s entertainment. This is a huge event for Wayne Township and always well-attended.
In early November is the second annual ‘Amazing Turkey Race’ which was “a big success last year,” according to Roetman and “will be even more fun, this year.” The event is loosely based on the hit reality show The Amazing Race but involves teams/families in a race searching for hidden turkeys with great prizes to be won. The cost for this fun event? A bag of groceries to be donated to the Wayne Interfaith Food Pantry, just in time for Thanksgiving.
“Each year, the Amazing Turkey Race will be held at different locations throughout Wayne to showcase all our different parks,” said Roetman.
You don’t want to miss out on these great events, like you just did at the annual Doggy Dip Day which was held this past weekend at Captain Kilroy park. Rossi brought her rescue dog, Tito, a chihuahua mix to the event. “He had a blast. He was tearing up all over the place, greeting all the dogs that came in. He did not stop,” said Rossi. Tito is a chihuahua mix who came from an animal rescue in Butler and has been a part of Kim’s family for six months. “He had a smile on his face the whole time, and when we got home, he passed out,” said Rossi.
“Around fifty dogs attended with their families. Some stayed for half-hour, some an hour, some the whole time,” said McArdle. “Some people didn’t even have a dog, they just came to watch the dogs play,” added Rossi.
More fun is coming for Winter and all year long. All the information you need is online at the Parks and Recreation website: https://www.waynetownship.com/parks.html But, if you’re near the municipal building, stop by the office and thank all these great people for providing so much. Who knows, if you play an eighties song on your phone, Kim might sing it for you!