Summer is a wonderful time to get outside and enjoy the sun in a local park or pool — and of course, we all love an updated communal space with renovated amenities. However, enjoying updated parks + pools means having to withstand some construction — and many residents of Montclair are frustrated as to why construction updates to a few major parks seemed to come to a halt right as the summer season began. In a recent update, the township shared that it is highly unlikely any of the pool or park upgrades happening at Nishuane, Essex, and Edgemont will be completed this season, causing debate and frustration among locals. Read on for everything we know about the Montclair park + pool renovations and why many Montclair residents are frustrated with these incomplete projects.
Three Montclair parks were expected to get a total of 1.75 million dollars worth of upgrades this summer: Nishuane, Essex, and Edgemont. Park upgrades were initially set to begin in 2020 but were halted due to the pandemic.
Picerno-Giordano Construction LLC is leading the improvement projects on Nishuane and Essex park after Montclair Council accepted a bid from the company back in March.
Edgemont park upgrades were minor compared to Nishuane and Essex. Renovations included replacement of the playground safety surface and upgrades to various playground equipment. These upgrades began March 6th, according to the Township of Montclair.
Read More: A Guide to Parks with Splash Pads in Hoboken + Jersey City
Currently, the projects at Nishuane and Essex are vacant. Construction materials have been left in the open with bobcats and backhoes sitting on a deserted gravel lot at Nishuane park.
Nishuane Park, the largest park in the fourth ward, renovations included pathway upgrades, tennis and basketball court resurfacing, and bench replacement.
Construction on these projects began May 10th. And according to the Montclair Township website, the town expected Nishuane and Essex pool to reopen on June 29th.
A Q&A was released from the township on July 5th, according to the Montclair Local News. It states that Nishuane Park renovations are expected to be completed within the next four to six weeks. Township officials were not able to disclose a timeline for Essex park; however, the project will not begin until Nishuane renovations are completed.
The document also states that, “Every effort will be made to open Nishuane Pool as soon as possible after completion of major construction items related to the project and when the area is deemed safe,” according to Montclair Local News.
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There are only three pools in Montclair township that are open to the public: Nishuane, Essex, and Mountainside.
With two pools closed for renovation, Mountainside is seeing a drastic increase in traffic. Operating hours at Mountainside pool have been extended to accommodate, 11AM to 8PM on weekends and 12:30PM to 8PM on weekdays.
According to the Montclair Township website, “If for whatever reason you purchased a badge but will not use the pool at Mountainside Park, please visit the Department of Recreation at 205 Claremont Avenue to obtain a refund and have your badge deactivated.”
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For those looking for other North Jersey pool options this summer, we rounded them up here.
Frustration + Debate
While some are looking forward to these local updates and improvements, many locals have expressed frustration and disappointment in the lack of access to these communal spaces. According to NorthJersey.com, councilor-at-large Peter Yacobellis had this to say: “If this couldn’t get done in time for summer, then it shouldn’t have been started until after summer.”
He continued to say that it is “highly unlikely” that Nishuane park or Essex park pools will open at all this summer.
Additionally, many residents are saying that the lack of transparency on these projects is the source of the frustration throughout the town.
A petition has launched on change.org to call for the stop of the demolition in Essex park playground entirely. Many are stating that the playground has no issues and upgrades are actually unwarranted. As of June 30th, the petition has seen over 300 signatures.
The petition reads, “The park is in perfect condition, and is one of the only shady parks in Montclair. Additionally, it appears the construction has zero oversight. Parks and Rec are not responsible for it as it is through council-approved grant, but per my emails with Robin Shlager, the council is not even aware of the work.”
A well-intentioned effort to improve the town has certainly created quite a stir among the community. The Montclair Girl will keep you updated as this situation continues to unfold. In the meantime, be sure to follow @themontclairgirl on Instagram and TikTok.