After spending nearly $170,000 for its facelift, Pizzuta Park, located in the Shades section of Weehawken, re-opened last Saturday to rave reviews from the many parents who had made suggestions about it. "We had a group of parents who took part in the planning for the park," said Chuck Barone, the director of parks and recreation for the township. "We decided to take a poll about the kind of park that they wanted and this was the result. There are quite a few young children in that part of town and the parents were concerned that the younger children weren't getting what they deserved." So when it was decided that Pizzuta Park was set for an overhaul, the smaller kids were always kept in mind. That's why there isn't a basketball facility at the site, only swings and plastic slides that are geared toward the smaller folk. The key to the newly refurbished park is the rubber safety surface that encompasses the entire area. What used to be hard rubber matting has been replaced with a soft, foam rubber cushion that will allow the kids to jump and fall and not get injured. "We decided to spend the money to get the rubber surface, as opposed to mulch chips, because it is much safer," Barone said. "When you walk on it, it's really like walking on pillows. It's very soft and very safe for the children." According to Barone, the surface is easier to manage than your front lawn. "It's basically maintenance free," Barone explained. "You can sweep it and vacuum it. It's so durable and pliable. It's like cleaning a carpet. We used a similar surface when we refurbished Gregory Park a few years ago." The park, dedicated eight years ago to the memory of the late Charlie Pizzuta, a former longtime township commissioner and Shades resident who was instrumental in bringing recreational programs to Weehawken children, also features the state-of-the-art play equipment. The focus is on safety. "We have two playscapes that are designed specifically for the younger children, like 12 and under," Barone said. "And we have the traditional swingsets and spring animals. We also have tetherball and a shower, which was a big thing." Although the re-opening of the park was delayed by three weeks due to inclement weather and a delay in receiving the ordered play equipment, the park's grand re-opening ceremony came at the perfect time, considering that school closes this weekend. The township's summer recreation program is set to begin on Wednesday, July 5, with Pizzuta Park as one of the sites for the program. "There are tables in place now for arts and crafts and having the shower there is a big plus, especially with the heat," Barone said. "The kids will certainly enjoy the park. It's a beautiful facility now, the way it's laid out, with the fences and the whole new entrance. It really is a nice park and we received a lot of compliments from the parents." The grand re-opening ceremony, complete with a ribbon cutting, was attended by Mayor Richard Turner, Councilman Louis Ferullo, and three of Charlie Pizzuta's children, namely Frank, George and Charlene, as well as several eager youngsters, wanting to christen the new play equipment in the only way possible.