- by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
In 2003, Essex County spent $230,000 to dredge Verona Park Lake and install a rubberized safety surface on the park's playground. In addition to the dredging, landscaping to prevent erosion was planted along the banks of the lake, a 1.2-mile health walk was restored and benches were replaced. A new drainage system was also implemented at the playground.
The following year, 2004, a $1 million upgrade funded with grant dollars, created a Children’s Garden with an amphitheater, modernization of the tennis courts, construction of a restroom building near the playground and enhancements to the park entrances.
A five-station fitness course, landscaping upgrades and improvements to the Verona Lake Dam were completed at the cost of $400,000 in 2008. In 2012, a $1 million project to upgrade the pathway lighting and repair the dock at the boathouse was also completed.
The projects totaled $2.4 million and were all funded with grants from the NJ Green Acres program, Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Infrastructure Improvement Trust Fund.
The boathouse is divided into three sections; both the large meeting room and the central meeting room have heat and air-condition and can be used year-round:
- The large meeting room on the southern end of the building, where senior groups and other clubs regularly meet
- The central part of the building that is used for events and is now newly renovated
- The kitchen area on the northern side of the building from where a private concession operates
This 2014 project began with modernizing the restroom facilities in the boathouse and in the park. It then provided a comprehensive face-lift to the central part of the Boathouse building to make it more attractive for special events and have it available as a seating area for the concession.
“The center room of the Verona Park Boathouse was such an under-utilized area because it was so dark and isolated," DiVincenzo explained.
"Adding new windows and installing the French doors
brings more light into the room and makes that section of the building
more inviting and available for additional activities."
The work to the Boathouse facility began in April and was completed in less than 10 weeks. The Essex County upgrades include:
- installing new French doors that open onto the deck
- opening an existing wall
- installing French doors that open onto the park side
- developing a new patio with a seating area on the park side
- installing new windows
- installing new flooring
- installing new walls
- installing new light fixtures
- providing new furniture
- installing an HVAC system
- installing a fireplace
- repairing the roof
- making landscaping improvements
The Boat House Burger Shack is the kitchen which has been operating out of the county's Boathouse since last summer. It's privately owned and run by Aramark, a company which is based out of Philadelphia, and also runs the food concessions at Codey Arena and Turtle Back Zoo. The Burger Shack menu consists of salads, wrap sandwiches, burgers along with ice-cream, shakes and beverages.
Boat House Rental
Anyone interested in renting the facility must fill out the county's Special Event Permit Application which is found online here. The newly renovated Central Meeting Room is rented at the cost of $100 per hour, for a minimum of four hours.
If the Central Meeting Room is full, there is additional seating on the deck. The Large Meeting Room, if it is not in use, may also be used for an event.
- Large Meeting Room
Rentals managed through the county: Call 973-735-6229
Holds about 100 people
- Central Meeting Room
Rentals managed through Aramark: Call 862-252-6052
Holds about 40 people
- Lit Candles
- Decorations on walls or ceilings
Paddle and Row Boat Rentals
In addition, Aramark also manages the boat rentals at the Verona Park Lake.
Rental Fees for either boat:
1/2 Hour Rental
1 Hour Rental
Joining them as well were Unity Construction Service representatives Steve Churilli, Bob Hertling, Tom O'Connor and Walter Younghans. Also present was Nick Centrone from Aramark, the vendor who has the food concession at the boathouse.
The improvements were seemingly well received by the local elected officials and members of the community who observed them.
“On behalf of Verona, we’d like to thank the County Executive
for what he’s done in Verona Park and in all the parks throughout the county. The upgrades make us all proud,” said Verona Councilman Frank Sapienza.
Several organizations utilize the building for meetings, including the Sierra Club and a local senior citizen group. The large room on the southern side of the building remained open during construction and activities in the building were not disrupted.
“We are tremendously happy that this building was renovated,
it will make visits to the park much more enjoyable for the public,”
Verona Park Conservancy President James McGregor said.
“We appreciate the attention the County has given
to make Verona Park such a beautiful place
and the way they have stood behind us through the years."
Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.
465 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Newark, NJ 07102