BELLEVILLE, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. recently announced a partnership with First Tee to create a learning center and three-hole practice course for the youth development program at Essex County Hendricks Field Golf Course in To create Belleville.
This will be Essex County’s second First Tea program and will allow the organization to enroll more children in its programs, officials said.
The First Tee is a nationally recognized youth development program that uses the game of golf to help young people develop leadership skills, learn life lessons, and prepare academically for higher education.
Essex County welcomed The First Tee to Newark’s Weequahic Golf Course in 2005. The First Tee currently enrolls more than 600 teenagers annually at its Essex County Weequahic Golf Course in Newark.
“The First Tee was a huge win at Weequahic Park as it taught new generations of young people the game of golf and prepared them for higher education and the challenges of life,” said DiVincenzo. “Expanding our partnership to Hendricks Field is a wonderful opportunity to offer enriching leisure time alternatives to another area of our county and to enable more young people to benefit from it.”
According to a county press release, the First Tee Learning Center in Hendricks Field will have a 4,000-square-foot building with indoor and outdoor practice areas, a STEM classroom, offices, restrooms, and storage. The golf training rooms will have garage doors that can be opened to allow students to stand inside and kick balls out of the building in bad or cold weather. This means that programs can also be offered all year round. The classroom will make it possible to offer a STEM summer academy, tutoring and SAT prep activities.
County officials continued:
“A three-hole Learning Links short course is already under construction in the northeast corner of Hendricks Field. The seven-acre Hendricks Field golf course will be part of the First Tee Campus, which will include three practice holes ranging from 50 to 160 yards in length. This green will be an excellent teaching area where 10 to 12 students can be lined up for chipping. A new entry point for the First Tee program will be created on Joralemon Street in Belleville, not far from the Belleville Recreation Department Building. A small parking lot will be created for the First Tee participants and their parents. “
The First Tee hired Rogers McCagg, a Connecticut-based architecture firm that specializes in golf course furnishings. Paterson-based APS Contracting Inc. won a $ 1,987,000 public contract to build the learning facility. The county will fund the construction of the clubhouse with a grant from the NJ Department of Community Affairs. Completion is planned for the end of 2021, officials said.
“The First Tee was great for bringing new generations of different young people into the game of golf. Just think of the opportunities it presents and the opportunities for development for our youth,” said New Jersey Senator Teresa Ruiz.
Commissioner President Wayne Richardson said the project will help “overturn” the county, an opinion shared by Commissioners Carlos Pomares and Brendan Gill and Belleville Mayor Michael Melham.
Meanwhile, Hendricks Field is undergoing a major renovation and modernization project, officials noted. According to a press release from the district:
“Three holes at Hendricks Field will be incorporated into the area used by The First Tee. Three new holes for the course will be created in a remote area of Branch Brook Park near Belleville Avenue. Historical documents show this area of Branch Brook Park originally for the Improvements to the greens, bunkers and drainage and irrigation systems of the entire golf course are part of the project, as is the modernization of the toilets in the main clubhouse on Franklin Avenue for nine-hole games this summer. All 18 holes open will be reopened for gaming in the course of this year. “
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