Run for your life! Giant pelicans! Oh, wait. They’re just part of the new-and improved Fillmore Park.
The 18-foot-tall, water-spouting, white-necked birds are merely the most visible aspect of West New York’s renovations to the park, located at Fillmore and 61st Street.
In addition to adding the pelicans — which Town Administrator Joseph DeMarco playfully refers to as “understated” — the new Fillmore Park features a plethora of cutting edge safety improvements.
New bright-green safety mats have been placed under the park’s jungle gyms, giving kids a chance to fall on what looks like grass — and safely get up with nary a scratch on them.
New tables and landscaping have brightened up the region.
And reassuringly for local parents, the town has installed a 24/7 security system with video cameras, which town officials hope will keep undesirable types out of the area and make the park clean and safe for all.
But the eyes of the park’s new visitors invariably fall on what else? The pelicans.
The centerpiece of the park, the pelicans are the zenith of a complete overhaul of the park’s water play area, which boasted one measly sprinkler before the renovations.
“The money was well spent.”- West New York Administrator Joseph DeMarco
While one sprays water like a giant shower, the other dumps a torrent over unsuspecting children that dare walk under its gaping beak.
Crowds have flocked to the park since it reopened on June 21, with DeMarco reporting a crowd of around 55-70 people on its first night.
The renovations have elicited comparisons to the also-renovated Dewey Park, which reopened to the public on June 6, and with good reason: both were built using the same federal Community Development Block Grant funding.
“[The parks] are being used,” DeMarco said. “It’s good to see.”
West New York residents are equally happy to see that the new parks came relatively cheaply as well, with the combined costs for the renovations of both parks coming out to $350,000.
“The money was well spent,” DeMarco said.
But the cost is irrelevant to many, who are merely happy to see West New York’s parks become safe spaces for the city’s children once again thanks to the improvement efforts.
“It’s very mentally healthy for children to come in [to the park] and enjoy themselves,” said Mayor FelixRoque.
And with the speed (Fillmore’s renovations were complete in less than a year) and cost-efficiency of the city’s efforts, Roque is advocating for even more improvements, including rolling out free wi-fi internet access to all of the city’s parks.
“We’re trying to keep up with the modern age,” he said.
But Roque’s visions of the future are equally limited by budget constraints. “My goal is to do more with less,” he admits.
The kids at Fillmore Park don’t care about budget constraints. They’re too busy playing with the pelicans.