Newark is a small city with a big emphasis on parks.
“For a city our size, the parks and the amenities in the parks are the best anywhere in the country,” says Joe Spadafino, director of Parks and Recreation.
With 33 parks totaling more than 600 acres and 17 miles of trails, there are lots of options. Parks range in size from one acre to seven acres. Some are simple, natural
areas that are ideal for strolls and contemplation; others are equipped with basketball courts and playground equipment.
The surrounding area also offers such serene settings as Read Park, with 68.5 acres of nature that is great for mountain biking, and the 113-acre Newark Reservoir.
Last year, the city installed fitness stations along the James F. Hall Trail, with more planned in the future.
A staff of 10 is tasked with cutting the grass, tending gardens and making sure playgrounds are regularly inspected.
An artist’s rendering of Preston’s Playground,
There are two community cleanups, spring and fall, with each initiative attracting more than 300 volunteers. Groups also can adopt a park.
Also in the works is an adaptive, inclusive playground at Newark Reservoir that will give people who are unable to use traditional equipment an opportunity for fun and exercise.
Known as Preston’s Playground, for a teen with a rare form of muscle weakness, the facility will include equipment that is imaginative and accessible to anyone in a wheelchair or with mobility issues. The city of Newark donated the land.
“The playground will be open to all kids who want to use it,” says Nic DeCaire, an organizer of the public-private initiative.
The 8,400-square-foot facility also will include a sewer and public restrooms and will cost $500,000. So far, about $40,000 has been raised through two 5K races.