In Newark, Little League Field Makeover Signals Greater Things to Come For City's South Ward

Other officials joining the county executive at a ceremonial opening of the field were Essex County Commissioner President Wayne Richardson, who also chairs the Newark Central Planning Board, and Newark South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James.

The Little League field, located off of Elizabeth Avenue, was first updated in 2007 with a synthetic grass playing surface. After 15 years, officials said the grass surface needed to be replaced due to regular wear and tear. Additionally, the field lighting was upgraded with brighter and energy-efficient LED lights, and a new scoreboard.

"These fields provide our youth with positive activities where they get exercise, build social skills and learn sportsmanship," the county executive said.

The installation of the new playing surface is one relatively small project in a broader effort to bring new life to the historic park, located in the city's South Ward. The park’s dedicated athletics facilities and programs for children, adults and seniors have been a longtime haven of leisure and activity for countless Newark and Essex County area residents.

More opportunities for residents to enjoy all the park's programs and amenities could be on the way.

In September 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy joined DiVincenzo and multiple Newark officials to welcome the new Feldman Middleton Jr. Community Center to Weequahic Park. It offers 7,500-square-feet of space for activities, a full-service kitchen, and meeting space. It also holds a 100-foot-long patio for outdoor seating which overlooks Bill Hicks Baseball Field and includes office space for the Weequahic Park Sports Authority and Weequahic Park Association.

At the opening of the new facility, Murphy hailed it as a "crown jewel" of the South Ward.

“This building took my breath away,” the governor said. “I’m incredibly happy to be inside of this one.”

The new playing field and community center are just two recent additions the park has received in the past several years in an effort to modernize its facilities. 

In 2016, a synthetic grass playing field was installed at the park and renamed in honor of the late Bill Hicks, a longtime Little League and high school baseball coach. In 2017, The First Tee facilities were upgraded and the entranceway, parking lot and field house were modernized at Weequahic Golf Course as part of a $3.1 million project. In 2018, the Elizabeth Avenue playground was upgraded with a new apparatus and a rubberized safety surface.

Today, the park offers a wide variety of activities, including the state’s first public golf course, playgrounds, a jogging trail, an 80-acre lake, basketball and tennis courts, baseball fields, softball fields, picnic areas and hosts a variety of outdoor concerts and festivals.

The improvements to the field were designed by the county Department of Public Works, which also monitored the project to ensure delays were avoided. The Montville-based Athletic Fields of America was awarded a publicly-bid contract for $661,986 to perform the construction work. The improvements were funded with a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-04-14 04:33:59 -0700