Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Big Dream Comes True at Riverside

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Big Dream Comes True at Riverside

Article excerpt

Riverside County Park in Lyndhurst has gone from swamp to swell.

"It's been like going to heaven," said Ed Abromaitis, Queen of Peace athletic director. "I stand on that field now and go, 'Wow, I never dreamed they would put this here.' "

The park along Riverside Avenue underwent a $5.3 million renovation over the summer and now includes a turf and lit multi- purpose stadium with a track, and two new softball fields, one with turf and lights and the other wired for lights.

This fall it is home to teams from North Arlington and Queen of Peace, although the Vikings plan to move back home to Rip Collins Field next fall when work on it is complete. That will leave Queen of Peace and various youth organizations as the main tenants next school year.

"It's a great facility," said Dave Hutchinson, North Arlington athletic director. "Some of the things they did there made a lot of sense for the community. This county park was definitely in need of a facelift. They did a lot of things to help us out, because fields and space are always issues."

The facility at Riverside is still not 100 percent complete. There are no locker rooms and no permanent concession stand, but those are coming by the spring.

The principal driver behind this project is Bergen County Parks Director Ron Kistner, who also has helped transform Overpeck Park in Palisades Park into a destination spot for marquee football games and county tournament events.

His idea with Riverside is to feature a small-school Game of the Week under the lights Friday nights. The first one is tonight when North Arlington hosts Saddle Brook.

Kistner's idea of having a weekly small-school Game of the Week is a good one, but already may be passe. Almost every school in Bergen County now has lights and/or turf, and those who don't probably have it planned for the future.

But for some Group 1 or 2 schools with outdated or small facilities, moving a rivalry game or a big game to Riverside makes a lot of sense. The seating capacity is 600.

"I would love to have another big game there in November," said Kistner, "and maybe a Group 1 playoff doubleheader if possible, or if there is bad weather we can move a game there. …

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