VERONA, NJ - Earlier this month, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced the completion of renovations to the Essex County Verona Park Boathouse. The upgrades are part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to modernize facilities and infrastructure while ensuring that the historic Essex County Park System continues to meet the recreation needs of the community. The project totaled $433,310 and was funded through the Essex County Capital Budget.
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:
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.
Verona Park Boathouse Improvements
The work to the Boathouse facility began in April and was completed in less than 10 weeks. The Essex County upgrades include:
Boat House Burger Shack
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.
Paddle and Row Boat Rentals
In addition, Aramark also manages the boat rentals at the Verona Park Lake.
Rental Fees for either boat:
From left: Tom O'Connor from Unity Construction, Nick Centrone from Aramark, Bob Hertling from Unity Construction, Verona Park Conservancy member Marvin Friedman, Essex County Public Works Director and Engineer Sanjeev Varghese, Verona Park Conservancy member Charles Heyer, Freeholder Leonard Luciano, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold, Steve Churilli from Unity Construction, Verona Councilman Frank Sapienza, Walter Younghans from Unity Construction, Verona Park Conservancy President Jim McGregor and Verona Township Manager Joseph Martin
On Wednesday, July 2, the county executive hosted an event to display the improvements the county has made to the Boathouse facility. Joining DiVincenzo that day to cut the ceremonial ribbon were Essex County Public Works Director and Engineer Sanjeev Varghese, Essex County Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold and Freeholder Leonard Luciano, Verona Town Manager Joseph Martin and Verona Councilman Frank Sapienza. Also on hand was Verona Park Conservancy President James McGregor and conservancy members Marvin Friedman and Charles Heyer.
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
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,
The improvements were designed by T+ Associates Architects from Philadelphia, and Unity Construction Services from Sayreville was awarded a publicly bid contract for $433,310 to perform the construction work. The Essex County Department of Public Works reviewed the architectural design and monitored the project to ensure delays were avoided.
The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 22 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, three off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.