By Jaimie Julia Winters
Montclair is applying for Green Acres funds for improvements to Nishuane Park, Essex Park and Mountainside Park.
Both the planning board and the council have approved the applications.
“These parks are in constant use throughout the year and have seen considerable use, which has resulted in deterioration and wear and tear of the facilities and features provided at each park. Therefore, the Township of Montclair proposes to rehabilitate and renovate these parks to meet the Township’s current standards and provide safer, more modern parks for its residents and visitors alike,” states a memo by the Department of Community Services.
The department is applying for the following amounts: $836,000 for Nishuane Park, $936,000 for Essex Park and $168,000 for Mountainside Park. It is a matching grant, so Montclair must match half the amount it gets. Twenty-five percent of the grant amount is also a loan, Steve Woods, Community Services Director, told the council at its March 5 meeting.
“We are not changing anything in these parks, just replacing in kind,” Woods said.
Nishuane Park, located near Nishuane School, is an active and passive recreational featuring tennis courts, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, a playground, asphalt walking paths and with park benches dispersed throughout. The township seeks to reconstruct all of the walking paths and the parking area, replace benches, picnic tables, trash receptacles and drinking fountains; and to improve the basketball and tennis courts that were redone about 10 years ago, according to Woods.
Improvements to the courts include new acrylic surfacing for six tennis courts, replacing the basketball court pavement and providing new basketball hoops and posts for each basketball court. Tree pruning will also be required as some trees have grown to overhang onto the courts, which results in leaves falling and staining the surface during the fall and winter seasons.
Essex Park is located on Chestnut Street next to the Clary Anderson Arena and Essex Pool facility, and across from Fortunato Field. It is in close proximity to Renaissance Middle School, Montclair High School and Montclair Cooperative School. The park includes a playground, asphalt walking paths, bathroom facility, picnic tables, benches and trash receptacles. The park is well-used, in a high traffic area. It is also used as a summer day camp site.
The town wants to replace the rusting and out-of-date playground equipment. Benches, trash receptacles and picnic tables will be replaced, the walking paths would be reconstructed and new light fixtures would be placed along the walking paths.
“One of of the main things people have requested is for lighting improvements from the arena to Chestnut Street,” Woods said.
The town also plans on renovating the bathrooms to meet ADA compliant standards.
Mountainside Park is located on Upper Mountain Avenue and is near Mountainside Pool, Presby Iris Gardens and Montclair State University. Mountainside Park features a basketball court, tennis courts, a baseball diamond and playground. Although they were resurfaced only a few years back, the tennis and basketball courts have worn, cracks have formed and are now in substandard condition. The town plans to refurbish the existing basketball court and tennis courts with new acrylic surface and privacy screens. Tree pruning will also be required as some trees have grown to overhang onto the courts.
“For some reason the courts lasted at Nishuane, but not Mountainside,” Mayor Robert Jackson said.
Although all work goes out to bid and towns typically take the lowest bidder, the mayor suggested that council have a hearing on not using the contractors used for Mountainside.
The grant is due to the state on March 30.