Essex County’s Glenfield Park gets bigger community center, new grounds and parking

Montclair, NJ – There are big plans for Montclair’s Glenfield Park, including a larger community center that will continue to carry the Montclair’s Wally Choice name.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., announced plans to update Essex County Park in Montclair with an expanded community center, artificial turf football practice field and a parking lot at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, June 3. The improvements are part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to revitalize Essex County’s parks system and ensure its facilities continue to meet the growing needs of the community.

“The Wally Choice Community Center has been a center of activity and social gathering for the community. The amount of use the building receives has made it clear that a new, larger facility that provides a welcoming environment and ample space is needed,” DiVincenzo said. “After meeting with and getting feedback from neighborhood residents and organizations that use the facility, we created a plan to provide modern meeting spaces, improve access to the park, and update the soccer field,” he added.

DiVincenzo added that when the new community center is completed, it will continue to be known as the Wally Choice Community Center. In 2009, the community center was named “Essex County Wally Choice Community Center” in honor of Montclair resident Wally Choice, who served as president and CEO of Montclair Grass Roots, a community organization that provided grassroots programs. leisure and educational enrichment for children, for half a century.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. (center) announced plans to update Essex County’s Glenfield Park in Montclair with an expanded community center, soccer field synthetic turf training and parking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, June 3. Holding the artist’s rendering of the project with the County Executive are (left to right) Louella Dudley, Member of the Montclair Aging Advocacy Council, Commissioner Tyshammie Cooper, Chief of Staff Phil Alagia, Commissioner Brendan Gill, Chair of the Fund of Essex County Recreation and Open Spaces Trust Lori Tanner, Montclair Deputy Chief of Police Will Young, Montclair 4th Ward Councilman David Cummings, Essex County Administrator Robert Jackson, Celine Choice and Wally Choice Jr., architect Greg Comito of Comito Associates, Senate Majority Leader and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz, Michael Ciccarelli Sr. and Michael Ciccarelli Jr. of Grove Contracting, Montclair advisers Lori Price Abrams and Bob Russo, and the executive director of the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, the Reverend Craig Dunn. The improvements are part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to revitalize Essex County’s parks system and ensure its facilities continue to meet the growing needs of the community. (Photo: Glen Frieson)

“I want to thank the county executive for once again honoring my father’s legacy, his contributions to the community and his love for this park,” said Wally Choice, Jr., son of the late Wally Choice, whose building is named after.

“About a year ago I walked through this site with the county executive and Mr Albert Pelham and here we are today. Once this new center opens, children will have a place to go and learn,” said Montclair 4th Ward Councilor David Cummings.

“This really is a community event because we celebrate the physical structure, but it’s nothing without the people in the community who make it a special place,” said Commissioner Brendan Gill, who was joined by Commissioner Tyshammie Cooper.

“This is a huge development for Glenfield Park. This type of investment is incredible and will show children that they can put down roots in the community but also have wings and explore what is beyond Montclair,” said Reverend Craig Dunn, Executive Director of Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are about this project. It’s about doing what’s best for children. It will be great to have a safe and usable field,” said Will Young of the Montclair Cobras.

The new building will be approximately 10,000 square feet in size, approximately twice the size of the current park building. It will include a large activity room, a computer room, offices, a kitchen and a room that will serve as a substation for the Montclair Police Department. An outdoor seating terrace will be located at the rear of the building.

The new building will be located to the right of the current Wally Choice Center and will be located closer to the street. A parking lot with approximately 40 spaces will be created in front of the building to make it more accessible. The current building, which was renovated in 2018, will remain open to the public during construction. It will be razed when the new building opens, at the end of 2022.

The Wally Choice Center will be designed similarly to recent community center projects in Essex County’s Cedar Grove Park, Essex County’s Watsessing Park and Essex County’s Weequahic Park. Another Essex County West Side Park Community Center update project is currently underway.

The modernization of the football pitch is also part of the project. The pitch will be updated with a synthetic turf surface and sports lighting.

Comito Associates of Newark was awarded a $525,000 professional services contract to design the building and park improvements. Grove Contracting LLC of Cedar Grove was awarded a $10,619,000 public tender contract to perform the construction work. The project is funded through the Essex County capital budget and with a $5 million grant from the NJ Department of Community Affairs.

Essex County Glenfield Park Revitalization

In 2022, the Little League/softball field was updated with a new synthetic turf playing surface and scoreboard. In 2017, the tennis courts and basketball courts, named after the late Bobby Hurt, were redone and new equipment was installed. In 2015, the playground and the toilet building were given a makeover. In 2009, the football field and two softball fields were upgraded with new irrigation and drainage systems and resurfaced with peat to improve playing conditions. Football and soccer goals were installed on the ground. A synthetic turf surface has been installed on the softball field in the eastern part of the park.

In 2006, a major facelift included the rehabilitation of the tennis and basketball courts, the development of a new horseshoe court, the repair of the peripheral wrought iron fence, the installation of a golf course eight stations, improving the aesthetics of park entrances, installing new picnic tables, repairing community and country house construction, and removing dead trees and branches. Essex County has partnered with Montclair Grass Roots to secure funding from the New Jersey Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Spaces Trust Fund.

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Jill E. Washington