The Union County Freeholder Board announced designs for the construction of a new state-of-the-art spray park with 33 attractions at John Russell Wheeler Park in Linden.
Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen said: “The spray park will provide yet another recreational component to Wheeler Park that our residents, especially the youngest ones, can enjoy. This is the latest in a series of investments in all our parks that are aimed at both modernizing our amenities while maximizing the recreational benefits in each facility.”
Freeholder Christopher Hudak, a resident of Linden, said: “The spray park will be a regional attraction for our residents and their children who want to enjoy the warmer weather days outdoors. We have continued to make upgrades to Wheeler Park that is making it one of the finest recreational parks in the County.”
The spray park will replace the existing pool, which is slated for demolition in the next few weeks. The pool, which was built in 1931, had witnessed a decline in usage over the past 15 years, and had developed costly maintenance issues. Spray parks, which are in heavy demand throughout the County, are generally less costly to maintain and do not require life guards.
The spray park was designed by USA Architects of Somerville, NJ. The facility is anticipated to contain the following items, once a construction contract is finalized:
- Demolition of the existing pool, which will be filled in and built over;
- Demolition of the existing pool house and construction of a new field house, which will consist of locker rooms for the nearby turf fields, and changing rooms for the spray park as well as new rest rooms;
- The existing concession stand will be renovated;
- Construction of a spray park with 33 above-ground attractions including water cannons, slides, dump buckets, a dragon, spray bus, pirate ship and surf shack;
- The spray park will also feature 26 surface sprays including water tunnels, water jets and geysers;
- The parking lot will be redone with new lights added;
- The walking path (macadam) around the area will also be renovated.
As Freeholder Hudak noted, the spray park announcement is among the latest in a series of high-profile improvements at the park in recent years, including the opening of a new skate park, new softball and soccer turf fields with lights, and a new playground. The park was also enabled for Wi-Fi in 2014.
Wheeler Park, which borders Routes 1 and 9 in Linden, was developed in 1925 by the Union County Park Commission, and was designed by the Olmsted Brothers, the noted engineering firm that designed a series of historic landmark parks in urban areas. Their list of projects includes Central Park in New York City and five others in the Union County parks system—Cedar Brook Park, Warinanco Park, Echo Lake Park, Green Brook Park and the Watchung Reservation.
Wheeler park contains a playground, three athletic fields, a skate park and walking paths. The park is named after John Russell Wheeler, the first Linden man killed in action during World War I.