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Posted by Ricardo Kaulessar, Urban Times News on July 23, 2003 at 08:06:50:

Urban Times News
by Ricardo Kaulessar -

July 7, 2003

(In Part One of this series of articles about the Enright-Martyniak Memorial Park, a park located on the corner of Pamrapo Avenue and Old Bergen Road in Jersey City, N.J., I wrote about how a park that has existed since my childhood with no sign and very few if any of the features that most parks would possess - benches, water fountain, playground, and proper fencing. Research on the park revealed that the park was dedicated in 1949 as the Enright-Martyniak Memorial Park that had an identity but how did gets its name and why? In Part Two of this series, I find many answers and run into many more questions)

Five hours in the New Jersey Room at the Jersey City Public Library Main Branch on Monday, May 19th revealed that Enright-Martyniak Memorial Park, the little park on the corner of Old Bergen Road and Pamrapo Avenue had been named for two residents of Pamrapo Avenue who died while fighting in World War II.

Pvt. John Enright lived at 79 Pamrapo Avenue with his family. He died on a battlefield in Italy in 1944. Sgt. Milton Martyniak died in an accident in North Africa in 1943.

On November 13, 1949, a dedication was told to open the park and commemorate the namesakes. The Jersey Journal, in the following day's issue, quotes the then-director of Parks and Public Property as saying "the commissioners of this city are endeavoring to do their part in carrying out the promises made when they were elected. We're going to have more parks and they will be dedicated to the memory of those who laid down their lives to abolish dictatorship." That comment actually referred to the previous Hague administration, not so much the politics of the world after World War II.

There was a parade organized by the American Legion, which started from Kennedy Blvd., going up Pamrapo Avenue. At the dedication ceremony, there was the unveiling of a sign with the name of the park. The park was also built with a playground, sandbox, park benches and a water fountain. The American flag was also raised.

I try to imagine all those festivities of yesteryear and what would it be like to restore the park to some of its former glory. To have the Mayor and other important people from the community and throughout the city at a re-opening of the park. My parents, my sisters and my nephew seeing a fruit of my labors and showing their pride in me. The benevolent and the selfish all bound into one endeavor.

Soon I started contacting to the city councilman in my area, Peter Brennan, on the advice of one of the employees in the New Jersey Room. I reached out to the Mayor's office for any information on the park. The city clerk's office to see if there were official records on the park's origins and progress over the years. And the parks director, Betty Outlaw, as I spoke to her over the phone about the park, and its history. A genteel voice which was concerned and excited about the prospect of a relatively unknown park within her purview. She agreed to a meeting with me to discuss how the park should be restored. Enright-Martyniak Memorial Park was one step closer to becoming its old self again.

One week later, May 27th at 8:45 A.M., I was in the office of Betty Outlaw, the Public Works Department Director who oversees the development and maintenance of the parks. A gracious woman who for the next half-hour put me at ease about my wild ambition. She suggested ideas for how the park should look like once it is restored, indicated that the Mayor would re-dedicate the park sometime in September.

There would be a new decorative fence, a working water fountain, benches and possibly a playground. The vision is coming closer to happening. THINK PARK. THINK PARK.

She showed me from her office window the outdoor sitting area where Public Works employees would have their lunch, read their book or just to contemplate. A place just slightly smaller than the park. The outdoor sitting area has a couple trees placed close enough to each other to create a blanket of shade over a table and some benches, and a bed of flowers, surrounded by decorative fencing she was recommending. Could only hope and pray that Enright-Martyniak Memorial Park would look like this. Then again, it's not located near the Public Works offices.

After the viewing, Miss Outlaw called Willie Brown into the office. Brown, a thirty-five year veteran of the Public Works/Parks Department. The head of the Park Maintenance division, he oversees all the cleaning of the parks, the grooming of trees and lawns and other care taking matters. I presented to him some background on the park and he made suggestions but he also asked questions. What do the residents around the park think about the park being restored? What would they like to see in that park? Would the restoration work inconvenience those who live close to the park?

In further conversation with Willie Brown in his own office on the other side of the Public Works building, the questions were asked again and haunted me throughout the conversation I had with him and his assistant, Elizabeth. And continued to haunt me as I left the building.

I made an appointment to meet Willie Brown and Miss Outlaw a week from today's meeting at the park. But those questions, which I never seriously pondered in my flights of idealism, would come crashing into a ground called REALITY.

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