NEWARK, NJ — Construction is underway for a new athletic complex at Vailsburg Park in Newark. The facilities at the complex will become the home fields for the Essex County Schools of Technology athletic teams and will also be open to the public.
“Updating Vailsburg Park with a state-of-the-art complex will provide our student-athletes with the home fields they need to compete and modern places for our residents and community organizations to exercise,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said. “We are always looking for new ways to enhance our parks and open spaces. Joining with the Schools of Technology was the perfect partnership to revitalize Vailsburg Park.”
“I am excited to support this wonderful project. This is a wonderful investment in the park that also improves the community,” county Commissioner Tyshammie Cooper said.
“Twenty years ago, the county executive was listening when Newark Tech students asked for a gymnasium to be built at the school. Two decades later, Joe is still listening. He keeps giving us brand-new school buildings and facilities to benefit our students,” Essex County Schools of Technology Superintendent James Pedersen said.
“It is tremendous to have these three sports facilities in one area. It will bring us to another level,” Essex County Schools of Technology Athletic Director Gerhard Sanchez said.
“I am really excited to compete on a track that we can call our own. To potentially have a senior night when we can look back on our careers will be good. We wouldn’t be able to do that without our own track,” Payne Tech junior and track team member Morgan Cooley said.
“It is heartwarming that the district is listening to what the students need. You are providing us with good academic facilities and now you are providing the fields for the athletes,” said Amalia Leiva, a junior at West Caldwell School of Technology and a member of the cross country team.
The project includes replacing four Little League baseball fields with a football/soccer field, rubberized running track, baseball field, Little League/softball field and a basketball court. The football/soccer field, baseball field and softball field would have synthetic grass surfaces and sports lighting to maximize use of the facilities. The fields will have benches for spectators. In addition, the wrought-iron fence along the Oraton Parkway side of the park will be moved inward approximately 8 feet and a new sidewalk and guardrail will be installed to enhance pedestrian safety.
French and Parrello from Wall received a professional services contract to design the park improvements. Applied Landscape Technologies from Montville was awarded a publicly bid contract for $7,541,723 to perform the construction work. The Essex County Department of Public Works is monitoring the project so delays can be avoided. The improvements are being funded through the Essex County capital budget and with a $3.5 million grant from the Essex County Schools of Technology District. Work started in May 2022 and is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2023.