Essex County Parks Dept. wins two awards

Photo Courtesy of Glen Frieson
Accepting two awards from the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association are, from left, Deputy Parks Director Kate Hartwyk, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. and Parks Director Dan Salvante.

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs was presented with two awards of excellence at the annual New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association convention held in Atlantic City on Feb. 26. The awards went to Grover Cleveland Park Playground in Caldwell/Essex Fells and Turtle Back Zoo’s African Adventure exhibit area in West Orange.

“I am so proud of our Parks Department for the statewide recognition they received from the NJRPA. Our parks and Turtle Back Zoo are community gathering places that our residents use for recreation, athletic activities, relaxation and more, and contribute greatly to our quality of life,” Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said.

Grover Cleveland Park received an Excellence in Design Award. Opened in May 2018, the playground has two play areas near the Children’s House: one for children ages 2 to 5 and one for children ages 5 to 12. There are climbing apparatuses, slides, spinners and swings for both age groups, including handicapped-accessible swings. A new feature is a miniature zip line. The facility has a rubberized safety surface in areas where play equipment is located. There are also grassy areas where children can run and play. In the center of the playground is a seating area from where parents can watch their children.

The zoo’s African Adventure exhibit area was also recognized with an Excellence in Design Award. The area opened with a Giraffe Exhibit in May 2016 and was expanded in 2017 to include the Ronald Mount Lion and Hyena Exhibit and in 2018 to include the Shores of Africa Penguin Exhibit. Each exhibit is part of Turtle Back’s ongoing commitment to education and conservation.