Parks_03_22_2024.jpg                                           Contact: Ann Pilato, Member Services Manager

                                                                         New Jersey Recreation and Park Association

                                                                        1 Wheeler Way

                                                                        Princeton, NJ 08540


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Press Release:

March 22, 2024

Bergen County Department of Parks Receives Two Excellence in Design Special Use Facility Awards


Above: Acting County Parks Director Craig Dorsett (middle) accepting awards from NJRPA Board Members

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Bergen County Department of Parks was presented with two Excellence in Design Special Use Facility Awards. One for “Bergen County Rowing Center” and one for “Red Wolf Exhibit at Bergen County Zoo, Paramus, NJ” at the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association (NJRPA) Annual Awards Ceremony at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center, Atlantic City, NJ. Craig Dorsett, Acting Director for the Bergen County Park System and Chief of Staff to County Executive Jim Tedesco was present on Tuesday, February 27, 2024, to accept this award.

The Excellence in Design Awards are presented to completed Recreation and Park facilities intended for public use.  Selections are made based on evidence of elements of aesthetic quality, uniqueness of design, usability and versatility and compliance with the New Jersey Barrier Free Recreation Sub-Code and applicable U.S.  Consumer Product Safety Commission Guidelines.

"The Bergen County Rowing Center and Red Wolf Exhibit at Bergen County Zoo are both exemplary projects that highlight my administration’s continued commitment to enhancing recreational opportunities and conservation efforts for the benefit of our community in our nearly 10,000 acres of parkland,” said County Executive Jim Tedesco. “I thank the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association for their continued recognition of our efforts and for their stewardship of the great outdoors here in New Jersey.”

"I am incredibly proud of the recognition given to the Bergen County Department of Parks for the Bergen County Rowing Center and Red Wolf Exhibit at Bergen County Zoo,” said Bergen County Commissioner Steven Tanelli. “Projects like these epitomize our dedication to fostering unique experiences and promoting environmental stewardship throughout the county. Receiving these awards is a true honor and we will continue to bring great opportunities and new experiences to our residents."

Bergen County Rowing Center” - The project goal was to construct a new boat house building as a venue for the advancement of rowing and paddle sports on an amateur, high school, and collegiate scale. It fulfills the need for indoor storage of sculls and equipment on the first floor and on the second-floor indoor training facilities, bathrooms and showers, locker rooms, and meeting space. The new boat house, a new two-story 14,285 Sq. Ft. (+/-) building, supplements the existing 2,600 sq. ft. one-story rowing center building that had maxed out its storage capacity.

The Project was funded by grants to the Bergen County Department of Parks from the Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund program. The project budget was $7,092,000. Funding was also obtained from the NJ Green Acres Park Development Grant Program and NJ Office of Natural Resource Restoration (ONRR) grant program to supplement County funding.

The project’s design responded to the challenges of its exposure to flood and storm surge, while also being a welcome and elegant beacon for community engagement. The building’s site placement was carefully considered as well, to define spaces of community gathering and engagement with the park’s vast natural resources. This building meets the increasing demands for public rowing with more efficient and increased boat storage and improved instructional and meeting spaces. It has provided access to rowing for both novice and advanced users, created opportunities for youth activities that promote teamwork, health and bonding, and has brought more opportunities for the public to interact with and enjoy Bergen County’s Riverside County Park South.

Red Wolf Exhibit at Bergen County Zoo, Paramus, NJ” - The project goal was to create an exhibit for red wolves in the County's Zoological Park at Van Saun County Park. The new exhibit is part of a larger Red Wolf Recovery effort to save the Red Wolves species.

The project was funded by County Capital Funding and Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund Grant funds.

The red wolf exhibit plans consisted of the installment of two (2) prefabricated log buildings with their respective concrete porches, the construction of a pond and its associated utilities, landscaping and additional site development. The two young wolves, named Rich and Shane, roam the exhibit, filled with tall grass, trees and shrubs and tree trunks. Visitors stand behind glass, which helps cut back on noise and interaction, to observe them.

As critically endangered species the two wolves came from the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. A long-term goal is to become part of a wolf breeding program to help expand the population of the red wolves. Red wolves, one of two wolf species in North America, used to roam around from northern Massachusetts to as far as eastern Texas. They were first listed as “threatened with extinction” under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 in 1967, but now are considered an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, according to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

The New Jersey Recreation and Park Association is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting parks and recreation; enhancing the professional development of its members; advocating sound policy and stewardship related to parks, recreation, resource management, and leisure services; and increasing awareness of the value of play and preservation of the environment to interested citizens and the public.

The purpose of the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association’s Awards Program is to honor and identify dedicated leaders, employees, and volunteers in the field of Parks and Recreation, and to recognize the State’s outstanding Recreation and Park agencies for excellence in programming, publicity, and facility design. The goal of the Awards Program is to focus State attention on the achievement of Park and Recreation agencies, to recognize the continuing efforts of staff and volunteers, and to acknowledge support extended by member agencies.


Additional Photos:


Above: Dusk shot of the Bergen County Rowing Center in Riverside County Park



Above: County Executive Jim Tedesco taking in Red Wolf Exhibit from the NJRPA award winning viewing deck



Above: One of the County’s Red Wolves

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