Posted by: gmontealegre | October 3, 2012

LINDEN reopens Cleveland Avenue Park after a fire destroyed the park and kept the children out

The children from Little Lamb Day Care in Linden could not wait to slip and slide and  play again at the Cleveland Avenue Park today after City officials reopened

Children enjoying Cleveland Avenue Park’s re-opening

the park during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Mayor Gerbounka, Councilman Armstead, Ms. Williams-Smith, Gary Luciano, Deputy Dir. Recreation Dept. at Cleveland Avenue Park re-opening

The mayor and the community wanted to make the opening of the park public to send a message to the vandals who set fire to the park last year –that this will not be tolerated.

Mayor Richard Gerbounka said, “We want the neighborhood to know that the City of Linden will not allow vandals to continually destroy our parks. I hope the residents will keep an eye on it so this will not happen again.”

The Mayor also said it was important to rebuild the park to preserve Linden’s green spaces.


Ms. Williams, considered the matriarch of the Fourth Ward, for her longevity in the community and her family’s contribution to the business life and governing body of the City, offered a heart-felt blessing during the opening ceremony.

The fire destroyed the park but not the spirit of the people who waited over a year for today’s re-opening.

The director at Little Lamb Day Care reflected on what the reopening means.

Jannel, Director of Little Lamb Day Care in Linden with Children at the Cleveland Avenue Park’s re-opening

“We love our park and the children love playing here. We are coming back to our park,” said Jannel (who did not want to use last name).

Many residents who grew up in Linden and  played as children in Cleveland Avenue Park wanted to be present for the opening as well.

“I grew up in this park and my children did too. I want my grandchildren to be able to come here so I can watch them from my kitchen window, just like my mom did with me,” said Carol.

Paul who lives next door said, “Our park is lovely and we love to sit and enjoy it.”

“The opening of the park is an example of how great things can happen when government works together,” said Councilman Derek Armstead who also mentioned the devastation the park suffered. He said he is very happy the park is open and he will be hosting a hot-dog day in the next few weeks.

Funding for the park, which was estimated at over $100,000, was made possible thru a grant from Union County that was matched by the City of Linden.

Linden employees from the Recreation Department installed all the playing equipment at the park and readied the park for today’s event.  Gary Luciano, Deputy at the Recreation Department said, “Recreation is very happy any time we can put in equipment for the children to enjoy. There will be swings for infants and for the bigger children and the big toy for all to have fun.”

The Cleveland Avenue park is located in Linden’s Fourth Ward between Bower and Mc Candless Streets.


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