Million-Dollar Upgrade To Verona Park


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If you’ve seen all the black plastic lining the walkways in Verona Park now and wondered what was up, it is this: Essex County is replacing all the lighting there and the decking in the boathouse.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and Essex County Parks Department chief Dan Salvante, a Verona native, announced the start of the $1 million project on Wednesday, May 2. The work is being funded by the NJ Green Acres program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. The 100 new light poles and fixtures will look like the decorative street lights already in use on Bloomfield Avenue and the loop near Verona town hall. The wires between the new fixtures will be buried in piping trenches and, by law, any time there is that kind of digging for construction, a silt barrier (the black plastic) has to be put up to limit runoff.

The wooden dock around the boathouse will be replaced with composite decking. Work is scheduled to be completed by August.

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The Verona Parks Conservancy helped obtain the Green Acres grant for the county and the members in attendance at the press conference announcing the upgrades seemed pleased with the project details. “This is my third year as president of the Verona Park Conservancy and every single year we have rolled out something new to improve the park,” said Conservancy President Deborah MacEvoy.

But Conservancy member Phyllis Friedman took the opportunity to ask DiVincenzo why the boathouse deck around the senior center room has been blocked off to the general public and what can be done to improve the food service at the boathouse. “We must redo that kitchen,” she added. DiVincenzo promised that the southern end of the deck would be opened and noted that the food contract is in its last year.

There have been many improvements to Verona Park over the last eight years. In 2003, the lake was dredged and the two children’s playgrounds were resurfaced with a soft, rubberized material. The Children’s Garden and outdoor reading area was created in 2004, the tennis courts were modernized, and a restroom was built near the playgrounds. There was work done around the dam in 2008 and a fitness course was added. The county has also worked with the Conservancy to plant new trees in the red oak grove at the park’s southern end. Verona Park lost its most famous tree, the Climbing Tree, in February 2010.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at virginia[email protected]


  1. Looks like nice improvements. Sure wish those bathrooms were open every now and then. When folks are walking their dogs or jogging, that is when they need to be open.

  2. It’s the bathrooms by the boathouse and the ones near the playground. They are typically not open at 9 a.m. when people might like to walk after dropping kids off at school. The earliest I’ve seen them open is around 11 a.m.

  3. Okay. No work has occurred in the park since the week of July 4th. The bases for the lighting are all in place; the digging seems to be complete. But, no lights are in evidence and half the park is unlit. The black plastic is starting to shred and be flattened down. Teenagers have begun to steal the plastic plugs off the bolts in the lighting bases. They are going to start working on the nuts and washers soon.

    Is this lighting going to be installed before vandalism raises the cost of the project even higher? What is the delay?

  4. Okay. Half the park has been dangerously dark since June. Lights were installed weeks ago but still haven’t been turned on. And, the unsightly and deteriorating black plastic is still everywhere. Very frustrating!


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