The Warinanco Park Skating Rink—a familiar old friend and landmark for Union County skaters since 1961—will undergo an extensive $7 million modernization and renovation that will double the overall complex space and transform it into a year-round venue for skating and other activities, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced.
Elements of the renovation/modernization include:
- A new state-of-the-art field house which will measure 11,000 square feet, and include a room for parties, a food concession area, a video game room, a retail pro shop and skate rental room;
- A new exterior seating area that will be covered, protecting patrons from the elements;
- The rink’s refrigeration building will be renovated;
- A new ice rink floor (covering the same foot print) including new refrigeration piping, LEED lighting and reflective ceiling which will be made from a material which will help prevent humidity build-up;
- New bleachers and flooring surrounding the ice floor as well as new boards, glass and nets;
- An all new gas fireplace–stone covered and running the height of the building;
- Team locker rooms will be remodeled.
The rink will become known as the Warinanco Sports Center going forward once the project is complete. In the Spring and Summer once the ice is removed, field turf will be laid on the rink floor and baseball/softball batting cages will be added as well as an infield so as to service the large number of baseball and softball leagues which currently use the park.
The new Warinanco Sports Center is expected to be opened in two phases, the first phase will allow for hockey games in the fall.
Most parts of the facility are currently in an advanced state of deterioration and will be torn down and replaced by new construction and signage. Mar-Bridge Enterprises of Matawan is the general contractor, and Netta Architects of Mountainside has designed the new facility.
The rink, which is located on the Roselle side of the park, was part of the original plans for the park drawn up in the 1920s. It was finally built and opened as an outdoor facility in October, 1961 with much fanfare: the opening program featured group and solo exhibitions from local professional and amateur skaters, a pee wee hockey game, and speed skating. The rate card billed the rink as “The First Public Artificial Ice Skating Rink in Union County.”
The rink was built in what was then known as the “Spinning Woods” area of Warinanco Park, and cost $225,000 to construct. It required 216 tons of sand for the base and 32 tons of crystal spar.
A roof was added in 1969 making the ice surface usable in all weather conditions.The rink is now home ice for hockey teams from five Union County high schools and is used by nearly 50,000 skaters each year.
Warinanco Park has seen extensive renovations culminating over the past year with the opening of the new athletic turf field and track area on the Roselle side, and a new sprayground/playground sports area on the Elizabeth side, across from the Boat House.
Located in the City of Elizabeth, and the Borough of Roselle, Warinanco Park, which opened in the mid 1920s, comprises 205 acres of developed park land, and was originally designed by the Olmsted Firm.
Beginning in 1857 with the design for Central Park in New York City, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), his sons and successor firm created designs for more than 6,000 landscapes across North America, including many of the world’s most important parks.
For generations of Union County residents, Warinanco Park is arguably the County’s most well-known recreational facility. While it is deceivingly small in size, the park’s many features make it appear as if it were actually much bigger.
Warinanco Park has four distinct areas: the Central Park area, the boathouse/playground area, the skating center, and the track area.
Some other popular attractions include the Chatfield Gardens; the park’s Great Walk area; tennis courts; ball fields; and par-course fitness route. In the Spring, the park is noted for its colorful blooms of Cherry Blossom, Dogwood trees and Azaleas.