by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
CEDAR GROVE, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. outlined plans for the new 77-acre Essex County Cedar Grove Park on Fairview Avenue in Cedar Grove on Friday, May 13th. Located on the site of the old Essex County Hospital Center, the park will be the first county park in Cedar Grove and will be the fourth largest in the Essex County Parks System.
“Preservation of this land for passive recreation and a community center
The new Essex County Cedar Grove Park will be 77 acres of open space situated along Fairview Avenue in Cedar Grove. There will be about two miles of walking paths through the park with historic lighting, benches and trash receptacles. The 15,000-square-foot Essex County Robert J. O’Toole Community Center, named for the retired Cedar Grove Mayor and Councilman Robert J. O’Toole, will be located on the eastern side of Fairview Avenue.
“I am really humbled and honored by all this.
“My family and I are deeply honored to have the new
The building will have a covered portico in front and a covered patio in the back. It is envisioned that the building will house a daily congregate meal program offered by the Essex County Division of Senior Citizens as well as be available for other community organizations to hold meetings and special events. In the rear of the building will be four bocce courts and a playground designed with a farming theme to connect to the history of the Essex County Hospital Center when there was a farm on the site to support the hospital.
“The preservation of open space is important to an area as developed as Essex County and Cedar Grove. We hope that individuals and families come here and enjoy this park,” Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin said.
Other elected officials spoke highly of Mr. O’Toole and the lifetime of public service he provided to Cedar Grove and how the new park will become a resource for the township.
“You can see the great example of serving the community
O’Toole served three terms as Mayor of Cedar Grove and three terms as Deputy Mayor during his 12 years on the Municipal Council. He retired from public office in 2015 after deciding not to seek re-election after serving three terms. One of his platform issues was preserving what was known as “Parcel 5” of the old Essex County Hospital Center on Fairview Avenue as open space. He worked diligently against the overdevelopment of Cedar Grove, to preserve as much of the hospital tract as open space.
“This is a great and well-deserved tribute to Mr. O’Toole,
O'Toole also was a proponent of reducing local property taxes while providing quality services to keep Cedar Grove as an attractive and affordable place to reside; and promoting quality of life ordinances, including the creation of an “Animal House” ordinance to hold landlords responsible for rowdy tenants.
“It is with pride and pleasure that the Board of Freeholders
Mr. O’Toole also has a lengthy resume of public service to the Township, working as a member of the Cedar Grove Volunteer Fire Department for 45 years, establishing and serving as a founding member on the Peckman River Regional Control Board to address flooding along the Peckman River; and serving on the Cedar Grove Historical Society, Board of Education, Senior Citizen Club and Planning Board, volunteering as a coach for Little League football and baseball teams, and being involved with St. Catherine of Siena Church, its school and its annual Carnival. He enlisted twice in the U.S. Army and served in Korea, and is a member of the Korean War Veterans Association and American Legion.
“Our Essex County parks have become sanctuaries.
The land which was the last remaining parcel from the old Essex County Hospital Center complex was slated to be sold to a private developer, but in 2008 the County Executive and the Board of Chosen Freeholders initiated a change in policy and decided to preserve the land as open space. A lengthy lawsuit involving the developer, the County and the Township was resolved in 2015 when a compromise was reached.
“Mr. O’Toole has truly left his mark on our community
The engineering firm of CME Associates from Parlin 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 will monitor the project and answer questions so that delays can be avoided. The project is being funded with a $5 million grant 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. It is scheduled to be completed by January 2017.
Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.
465 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Newark, NJ 07102
Essex County Cedar Grove Park is the fifth new park to be added to the Essex County Park System since 2007. The 11-acre Essex County Kip’s Castle Park in Montclair and Verona was preserved in 2007, the 10-acre Presby Memorial Iris Gardens was preserved in 2009, the 2.7-acre Essex County Veterans Memorial Park in the Essex County Government Complex in Newark was opened in 2009 and the 12.3-acre Essex County Riverfront Park was created in 2012.