IRVINGTON, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. announced plans on Friday, Sept. 23, to construct a new 13,000-square-foot community center in Irvington Park. The structure is intended to create modern accommodations for residents to gather and experience the park in a new way, and provide additional space for community groups who regularly utilize the park.
“The community center has become a hub of activity in Irvington Park, but the small size of the current building limits the activities that can be accommodated. Constructing a new facility will provide the space needed and … (an) up-to-date setting for people to enjoy their time in Irvington Park,” DiVincenzo said. “The needs of our residents are always changing and providing this modern space will give visitors another way to enjoy and experience our park.”
In 2016, the original community center was named in honor of the late D. Bilal Beasley, who served as a member of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders — now called the Essex County Board of County Commissioners — and the Irvington Town Council. DiVincenzo said the county will continue to honor Beasley by naming the new building after him.
“Thank you to the county executive for continuing to honor my father. This building is a testament to who he was. We outgrew the original building and welcome the additional space this new structure will have,” said Omar Beasley, D. Bilal Beasley’s son.
“This park really meant a lot to my father. He wanted to bring things into the park that people could enjoy. The new building will be a welcome addition,” said Irvington Council President Jamillah Z. Beasley, D. Bilal Beasley’s daughter.
“Bilal Beasley shared every part of his life with the community. It is a fitting tribute to name this new building after him,” Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss said.
“Bilal was a friend to so many people. Think of how many children and seniors will come through this building and benefit from and enjoy this modern space,” Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz said.
“I served with Bilal on the Board of Freeholders and that is where we bonded. He had a quiet and fearless attitude,” Assemblyman Ralph Caputo said.
“I want to thank the county executive for always thinking about Irvington. I am excited about using this new facility,” Commissioner Romaine Graham said.
“It is fitting that this beautifully designed building be dedicated to our beloved Bilal Beasley. Irvington was first and foremost to him,” Commissioner President Wayne Richardson said.
The new community center will be located on the Lyons Avenue side of the park adjacent to the tennis courts. The tennis courts will remain in their current location.
The 13,000 square feet of space in the new building will be almost twice as much as the current brown brick and cinder block community center. The centerpiece of the building will be a 3,350-square-foot room with a capacity of 300 people. Also planned is a classroom, police substation, a conference room, office space for groups and organizations that utilize the park, and a large kitchen area. The building will have restrooms that are accessible for those inside the building as well as separate restrooms for those outside of the building.
Access to the building will be enhanced with a new driveway and parking lot in front. There will be a covered entrance way so visitors can be dropped off without experiencing the elements. A feature in the back of the building is a 1,240-square-foot covered patio area that provides views of the park and additional space for outdoor gatherings.
DiCara Rubino Architects from Wayne received a professional services contract for $475,000 to design the new community center. A publicly bid contract to construct the building will be presented to the board of commissioners for their review. The Essex County Department of Public Works will monitor the project to ensure delays are avoided. The improvements are being funded with a grant from the state of New Jersey.