North Bergen officials cut the ribbon on their long-awaited new $19.5 million recreation center and library that broke ground back in April 2019.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“We are a progressive community, and with that comes some challenges. Once such challenges is properties do not present themselves very often,” North Bergen Parking Authority Executive Director Bob Baselice said.
He noted the property was originally a car dealership and then a furniture store that burnt down in December 2016. Baselice noted the township bought the property.
“Parking is always a property, believe me, I know. This beautiful facility comes with 62 new spaces,” he added.
“This is a facility for the future. Education, recreation, and all things come together in one place in downtown North Bergen,” Department of Public Workers Commissioner Frank Gargiulo said.
“Is this a beautiful facility or what? I want to thank the mayor. He made a promise to the downtown people, and now he’s bringing it. He was the force behind this, and he made sure it kept moving forward,” Parks and Public Property Commissioner Hugo Cabrera said.
He also thanked former Business Administrator Chris Pianese and his successor Janet Castro.
“It’s been a long time coming. In the past, we were bringing all the kids uptown for practices and games. Now downtown has their own center. They can practice on that beautiful turf field up there. You guys gotta go look at it. It has the best view in town. Besides that, we have a beautiful basketball court.”
Hudson County Board of Commissioner Chair Anthony Vainieri, also the chair of the county Democrats, called it “a great historic day” that could be credited to the leadership of state Senator (D-32)/Mayor Nick Sacco.
“This building is going to be here for every one of your children to enjoy. I’m proud to be part of this. I’m proud of the county for giving close to $1 million for this facility today. I want to thank Tom DeGise, the county executive … the county commissioners. I want to give a shout out to Craig Guy, the chief of staff to the county executive. The county has been here every step of the way,” he stated.
North Bergen Library Director Sai Rao, on the opening of the library, quoted the poet Henry David Thoreau saying, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
“There are only three towns in the entire nation that house a library and rec center or community center together. This happens, in my opinion, because of progressive leadership,” she added, commending Sacco.
“Some of the funding that we had came from the Green Acres state funds, our CBDG (Community Block Development Grant) money, and our county open space fund. He produced about a million dollars for this building,” Sacco said before introducing Guy.
“It takes a mountain. The downtown area in North Bergen needed something. Enjoy the facility,” Guy noted.
Sacco emphasize they received federal funds to make the project possible and introduced the individual who would help with that in the future.
“This is a testament to North Bergen present, this is a testament to North Bergen’s future, and it is an incredible facility that will deliver real, positive change for your children,” 8th District Democratic congressional nominee Rob Menendez.
“We made commitments. We looked at downtown North Bergen and saw the natural divide on 32nd St. It was so difficult for your children who live in this area to keep coming up and down to play basketball. This was the crowning achievement we aimed at,” Sacco added.
According to North Bergen spokesman Phil Swibinski, was funded through a combination of municipal bonds, green acres funding, as well as federal, state, and county grants.
After the ceremony, there was a carnival with free food and music for residents to enjoy that included games such as a dunk tank with a clown.
There were also several performers, including one in a Mickey Mouse costume, along with others. Additionally, on the top floor, where the track and field with artificial turf is located, spectacular views of Hudson County and lower Manhattan, including the Freedom Tower.