Brookdale Park is the site of a variety of fitness and wellness activities. On April 3, runners stretched before AAPI Montclair's color run. (ADAM ANIK/FILE PHOTO)
Brookdale Park is the site of a variety of fitness and wellness activities. On April 3, runners stretched before AAPI Montclair’s color run. (ADAM ANIK/FILE PHOTO)

Two improvement projects are in the works for Brookdale Park. 

The first is construction of a permanent bandstand and open-air pavilion. The second includes improvements to the four Little League/softball fields and the soccer field. The county park is in Montclair and Bloomfield. 

The bandstand, on which work is underway, will be used during the Essex County Free Summer Concert Series, which hosts weekly Friday night concerts throughout the summer and an Independence Day concert with a fireworks spectacular.

When not in use for concerts or other programming, the bandstand will be accessible as an open-air pavilion that can be utilized by the public.

“The creation of the bandstand will help us reduce the amount of work needed to put on a concert and help us put on a more professional presentation when we host concerts and other events in Brookdale Park,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said.

“It also follows Olmsted’s idea to create pavilions to attract people to the outdoors and give them shelter when they are enjoying open spaces in the parks system,” he added, referring to the park’s design by the noted landscape architecture firm run by the Olmsted brothers.

The bandstand will be 19.5 feet wide and 30 feet long and will be equipped with the infrastructure needed to support concerts and performances, including rigging, lighting, electrical power and storage space. 

Additional site improvements include tree pruning and removal of dead trees, installation of lighting along nearby walking paths and around the bandstand to enhance public safety, repairs of paving and curbs and installation of benches and garbage cans. The bandstand will be handicapped accessible.

Barreto Dowd Landscape Architecture and Site Planning of Howell Township was awarded a contract for $241,520 to design the bandstand, and ZN Construction of Elmwood Park a contract for $1,245,000 to build it. 

The bandstand is being funded through a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. Work started earlier this month and is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

The park’s playing fields are located in its northern section. Synthetic surfaces will be installed for the infields of the four diamonds to stabilize them and improve drainage. Natural grass will remain in the outfields. In the stadium, lighting will be installed for the soccer field.

“Putting synthetic playing surfaces on the infield section of the fields will improve play, reduce maintenance costs and provide our young athletes with more up-to-date fields on which to play,” DiVincenzo said. 

French and Parrello of Wall Township were awarded a contract for $157,450 to design the field improvements. They will be funded with grants from the federal American Rescue Plan and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. Work on the fields is expected to start in November and be completed by the spring of 2023.

“The dedication of dollars makes a difference in this park and for all of Essex County,” Robert Jackson, Essex County administrator and former mayor of Montclair, said. “The field improvements will provide additional recreation opportunities for our young athletes.”

County Commissioner Brendan Gill, of Montclair, said: “The exemplary oversight of our county finances allows us to do these projects in Brookdale Park. These are truly amazing improvements that make this park a countywide destination.”

Construction of Brookdale Park began in 1928 following a design by the Olmsted brothers, John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The park was initially supposed to be finished within a few years, but completion was postponed due to the Great Depression. With help from the Works Progress Administration, it was completed by 1937. 

Since 2004, DiVincenzo’s administration has done several improvement projects at the park. The two new ones will be the park’s first since 2019.