Sports enthusiasts and park lovers of all stripes will soon have newer facilities to enjoy, as the city is embarking on adding more than $3.5 million in improvements to three of its parks.
Over the next year, Mayor Dennis P. Collins, Mayor Edward Clark, and Mayor Francis G. Fitzpatrick parks will receive facelifts and much more, as the administration seeks to follow up on Mayor James Davis’s pledge to upgrade Bayonne’s recreational spaces.
Funding will come from the Green Acres, Hudson County Open Space Fund, and federal Community Development Block Grant program, as well as other sources.
The centerpiece of these efforts is the $2 million upgrades to Collins Park at First Street, at the city’s southern end. The park runs several blocks from the west at the Bayonne Bridge to the east at Brady’s Dock.
A highlight of this project is the $360,000 renovation and reopening of the city’s skate park, according to Business Administrator Joseph DeMarco.
“We repurposed some money from the Port Authority,” he said. The skate park sits under and next to the Bayonne Bridge. The authority is elevating the bridge’s roadway 65 feet through a $1.3 billion project.
“The previous park was not made with concrete or durable equipment,” DeMarco said. “This one is more concrete based. It’s a professional skate park.”
The skate park work will begin this spring and the facility is expected to open by July.
The rest of Collins Park will undergo a redesign, including the resurfacing of the ball fields and tennis courts there. Lighting will be added and pathways will be reconstructed. The concepts for that part of the project are currently being designed.
Fitzpatrick Park, the next block over from City Hall on Avenue C, will undergo several major changes in an approximately $800,000 overhaul.
The centerpiece of the upgrades there is the addition of a fenced in multi-purpose court or playing field for street hockey and soccer.
The playground and cement tables and seating will be updated, and a “water feature” will be added.
The city is putting funding together for the project now, and it is expected to include CDBG, Open Space, and one other source.
Work is expected to begin at the end of the summer season and take about three months.
“I strongly believe that investing in our recreational facilities is one and the same as investing in our youth.” – Mayor James Davis
Clark Park upgrades
Bids have been received for the $800,000 of renovations planned for Clark Park, near 8th Street and Avenue C, across from the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Station.
“It needs to get redone,” DeMarco said. “It needs a complete redesign and layout.”
The park will retain its basketball courts and playground. But a passive park portion will be added as will a water feature, likely shaped like a boat or ship.
Work on the half-city block park is expected to start in April or May and be completed by August.
Funding comes from the CDBG program, city bonding, and from the developers of the residential project at 22 North Street, who will meet their open-space requirements, according to DeMarco.
“Parks and recreation is a huge part of what gives a community its identity,” Davis said. “It’s a reason why people buy homes, send their kids to local schools and enroll them in local programs.”
The work on the three parks follows three major facilities last year.
Last summer, multi-million dollar renovations were made to Don Ahern Veterans Memorial Stadium. The facility received new lighting and turf for its football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and softball fields.
In October, the city’s playground built specifically for children with special needs was opened. The project was funded by a nearly quarter-million-dollar grant from the Open Space Fund.
In mid-December, the $2 million reconstruction of the Richard L. Korpi Ice Rink was celebrated. The facility is used by city sports teams, recreational leagues, and families participating in open skating.
Davis said he feels that keeping parks up to date is in line with his looking toward the future.
“I strongly believe that investing in our recreational facilities is one and the same as investing in our youth,” he said.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.