TOWN OF BOONTON — Pepe Field Playground and Basketball Court reopened during a Ribbon Cutting ceremony on Wednesday, August 10. The celebration was attended by many local officials and more than 100 residents who live near the three-acre park at the end of Wootton Street and in Upper Boonton. The three-acre Pepe Field was a Superfund site. Today, the site, formerly a city eyesore, provides field space for residents of Boonton to enjoy.
The celebration opened with a performance by Boonton Harmony Senior Drum Corps. Seeing a crowd of anxious kids gathering at the gate, Richard J. Corcoran III delivered an opening speech and then a ribbon-cutting celebration. Corcoran said “The total project cost $515,000; $425,000 for the playground, $80,000 for the baseball field and $10,000 engineering fees.
The playground includes a double slide for racing and a spiral tube slide, multiple shade canopies, a merry-go-all, cantana chimes, and concert duo drums. The entire surfar is multi-colored sponge-like matting to cushion any falls with enclosed chain link fence.
“It had been closed for the pandemic,” said Town Council member Marie Devenezia. “It was reopened but then closed in 2020 because the existing equipment had become very dilapidated. There was a lot of broken equipment and things that were deemed to be unsafe to play on were removed.”
“It’s been a four-year journey for some of us,” he said. “Please use it, enjoy it and be respectful,” said Mayor Richard J. Corcoran III.
“Today our Town Council hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening of the new Pepe Field Playground and Basketball Court. Thank you to all that invested time and energy into putting this project into place, including our Boonton Recreation, Department of Public Works, our Town Engineers, Town Administration and others. I was happy to celebrate along with my colleagues on the Council, James Gannon for Sheriff, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, Daniel “Zeke” Balan, Boonton Harmony Drum Corps and many other friends,” said Boonton Council Member Ward 3 Joseph E. Bock, Jr.
E.F. Drew Company used the three-acre Pepe Field Superfund site as a landfill for almost 30 years. From the 1920s until 1950, the company disposed of unknown quantities of processing waste from oil and cleaning product manufacturing. The site remained vacant until the Town of Boonton purchased the property in the mid-1960s for recreational purposes. The Town covered the site with soil and built recreational amenities. However, because of the biological decay of waste material beneath the field, strong toxic odors affected the site. In 1969, Boonton closed the recreational facility for many years. In 1983, EPA added the site to the National Priorities List (NPL) and began cleanup activities at the site. These activities included leachate collection and treatment, and stabilization and removal of wastes. Workers also installed a landfill gas collection and treatment system. The cleanup activities included measures to restore the recreational amenities of the park. The on-site recreational facility, restored and reopened in 2000, includes a little league field, walking paths, a playground, a basketball court, gazebo and concession stand. EPA also transferred ownership of an adjacent residential property from the federal government to the Town of Boonton for use in conjunction with the park. In 2003, EPA deleted the site from the NPL.