The Warinanco Park Skating facility—a familiar old friend and landmark for Union County skaters since 1961—has doubled in size and become the Warinanco Sports Center after undergoing an extensive $7 million modernization that has transformed it into a year-round venue for skating, baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced.
The project, which was financed through the County’s Park’s Department, was completed over a two-year period. Later this year, the County will host a full celebration marking the start of skating activities.
“Our vision was to provide modernized amenities while creating a venue that can remain in use year-round for other purposes,” said Freeholder Bruce H. Bergen. “We are excited to be opening an exciting update that has restored the skating rink to full prominence.”
“The new Warinanco Sports Center is a place where families will continue to make great memories,” said Freeholder Vice Chairman Sergio Granados, who is also the Freeholder Board’s parks liaison. “We’ve completed an imaginative recreation of the landmark.”
Elements of the renovation/modernization included:
Later this Summer, 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 in the area. The turf will also be able to service the large number of soccer clubs and lacrosse teams throughout Union County.
Mar-Bridge Enterprises of Matawan was the general contractor, and Netta Architects of Mountainside designed the new facility. The complex will be managed by Sports Facility Management (SFM) of Clear Water, Fla.
SFM Founding Partner and CEO, Jason Clement remarked, “We believe in the power of sports, fitness and recreation and its ability to improve the health & economic vitality of the communities we serve and are inspired by the vision and continued investment in the park by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. We are excited about bringing our national network of resources and results-driven approach to help provide a new level of service to the iconic Warinanco Park and Union County community.”
As a part of the engagement, Sports Facilities Management will also be involved in both the re-branding and marketing of the new Warinanco Sports Center, as well as the Park itself.
“The national resources, experience and expertise that SFM brings to the table is not unlike our successful collaboration with KemperSports, a leader in the golf course management industry (which started in 2010) and played a key part in the day-to-day management and transformation of the Galloping Hills course and Learning Center into one of the most sought after public golf courses in the state of New Jersey,” said Freeholder Chairman Bergen.
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 nine hockey teams from six Union County high schools and is used by nearly 50,000 skaters each year.
Warinanco Park has seen extensive renovations culminating over the past few years 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.