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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2009

ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO PRESENTS PROPOSAL TO RECOGNIZE COMMUNITY ADVOCATES WITH OVER 80 YEARS OF COMBINED SERVICE TO ESSEX COUNTY RESIDENTS

Executive Recommends Glenfield Park Field House be Named
"Essex County Wally Choice Community Center"
for Longtime Montclair Grass Roots President & Executive Director

Executive Recommends Branch Brook Park Middle Division Recreation Fields be Named "Stephen N. Adubato, Sr. Sports Complex" for the Founder of The North Ward Center and Robert Treat Academy Charter School

Essex County, NJ - Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced a proposal on Tuesday, June 9th to recognize the lifetime contributions of two community advocates by naming Essex County recreation facilities in their honor. The County Executive is recommending the field house in Essex County Glenfield Park be named in honor of Montclair resident Wally Choice, who is President and Executive Director of Montclair Grass Roots, and the Essex County Branch Brook Park Middle Division recreation complex be named in honor of Newark resident Stephen N. Adubato, Sr., who is the Founder of The North Ward Center and Robert Treat Academy charter school. Mr. Choice and Mr. Adubato have more than 80 years of combined service to supporting their community and enhancing the lives of our children.

"Wally Choice and Steve Adubato are two unique individuals who recognized a need in the community and took action to address it. Thanks to their dedication and commitment, they helped stabilize their neighborhoods, have positively influenced generations of families and young people, and made Essex County a better place to live," DiVincenzo said. "Wally and Steve have a strong connection to their communities. Naming these facilities in their honor is a fitting tribute to two men who have each devoted four decades of their lives to improving the quality of life for our residents," he added.

"Essex County Wally Choice Community Center"

DiVincenzo is proposing to name the field house in Essex County Glenfield Park in Montclair as the "Essex County Wally Choice Community Center" in honor of the President and Executive Director of Montclair Grass Roots. The community group has operated from the facility since its inception 41 years ago.

Wally Choice was born and raised in Montclair, and grew up just a few blocks away from Essex County Glenfield Park. After going to college and playing several years of professional basketball with the St. Louis Hawks and Harlem Globetrotters, Mr. Choice returned to Montclair and started his own business. In 1968, he was one of the founding members of Montclair Grass Roots, a community-based organization dedicated to providing quality summer recreation and enrichment programs for children. In addition, Montclair Grass Roots has been a link between the Township of Montclair and the County of Essex, has brought various groups together to address community issues and reach solutions that enhance the quality of life for all residents. It continues to collaborate with Essex County, the Township of Montclair and a host of volunteer community groups to provide year-round activities for residents of all ages, from children to senior citizens.

"Mr. Choice has been a positive role model for generations of young people, challenging their minds, strengthening their bodies, encouraging their creativity, teaching them good citizenship and laying a strong foundation that has helped alumni of the Grass Roots program to find success throughout their lives," DiVincenzo said.

Essex County has partnered with Montclair Grass Roots to apply for and obtain grant funding from the New Jersey Green Acres program and Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund to support improvements in Essex County Glenfield Park. Projects include modernizing the basketball and tennis courts, and enhancing the entranceways and landscaping in 2006. Work is currently being conducted to modernize the football field and two softball diamonds.

"Essex County Stephen N. Adubato, Sr. Sports Complex"

DiVincenzo is proposing to name the Essex County Branch Brook Park Middle Division Recreation Complex as the "Essex County Steven N. Adubato, Sr. Sports Complex" in honor of the founder of The North Ward Center and Robert Treat Academy charter school.

In 1970, Steven N. Adubato, Sr. left his position with the Newark Public Schools to form The North Ward Center, formerly called the North Ward Educational and Cultural Center. Its primary goal at the time was to provide information about available services to residents, particularly students from the North Ward of Newark. Over the next 39 years, Mr. Adubato expanded its scope of services and outreach to support and provide assistance to people of all ages from newborns to senior citizens throughout Essex County. The Center operates a variety of programs serving more than 10,500 individuals that empower community members to learn, live and work productively in Newark. Major programs include the Robert Treat Academy (recognized as a "No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School" by the U.S. Department of Education),New Jersey’s premiere charter school serving 450 students in K-8; a multi-site Child Development Center offering quality preschool for 700 children daily; The Newark Business Training Institute serving 1,500 adults and youth in a variety of occupational training and worker adjustment services;Senior Citizen Assistance providing an array of services to 1,200 elders; andCasa Israel, an adult medical day-care center with 120 clients served daily and established in partnership with The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. The North Ward Center’s Recreation and Youth Development Program (the largest private program of its kind in New Jersey) provides essential recreation opportunities that allow boys and girls the opportunity to learn sportsmanship, teamwork and healthy lifestyle habits in a variety of activities. Each year, thousands of children participate in the recreation programs that are based at the athletic fields in the Essex County Branch Brook Park Middle Division.

"Steve Adubato has been a friend and mentor for me throughout my entire life. He has created a host of facilities that can have a positive effect on our residents’ lives from the time they are born to their senior years," DiVincenzo said. "This program and focus have evolved as the community’s needs changed, although the goal of empowering our residents to succeed and be productive members of the community has continued," he added.

Essex County has partnered with The North Ward Center to apply for and obtain grant funding from the New Jersey Green Acres program and Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund to support improvements in Essex County Branch Brook Park. Projects to modernize the Branch Brook Park Middle Division complex include remediating contaminated soil, reconstructing the five baseball/softball diamonds, enhancing landscaping and planting Cherry Trees. Currently underway is another project to develop a synthetic grass football/soccer field. In addition, the three baseball fields next to the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center were upgraded with the help of grants obtained by The North Ward Center and Essex County.

The baseball/softball fields in the complex are named for baseball legend Roberto Clemente, retired Major League Catcher and Newark native Rick Cerone, Negro League All-Star Ray Dandridge, Sr., former Freeholder President Jerry Grecco and Luis Lopez, founder of the Roberto Clemente Little League. The football field currently under construction is named for National Football League Hall of Famer and Barringer High School Alumni Andre Tippett.

The two ordinances are listed on the Board of Chosen Freeholders’ agenda for first reading on Wednesday, June 10th.

 
 
 
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