Veterans Memorial Park is built as a passive recreational area to be enjoyed by local residential and school communities as well as jurors, county employees and other visitors to the judicial complex. It is a prime location for concerts during work hours in the spring. The development of this park, on what was the site of a County parking deck, represents a significant grayfield-to-greenfield project.
As part of an overall upgrade of the County Complex begun in 2003 by Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., a new 477-car parking garage was built in the Essex County Jurors Parking Lot on South Orange Avenue in 2008.
The next step was to remove an aging parking deck on West Market Street and replace it with a passive park to be enjoyed by the local residential and school communities as well as Jurors, County employees and other visitors to the Complex. Built in the 1960s, the deteriorating deck was closed in August 2008. Removal took five months, and the building materials were recycled, with bricks and concrete pulverized and used as fill on the site.
The Armed Forces Memorial, which stands in the middle of the park, includes a circular water fountain flanked by 10 flagpoles behind a low granite wall. The flags of the seven branches of the military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Army National Guard and Air Force National Guard – fly from 25-foot poles while the New Jersey State flag and Essex County flag fly from 30-foot poles. The American flag, at the center of the display, flies from a 35-foot pole. Beneath each flag pole, on the granite wall, is the official agency or government seal. In November 2011, the Memorial plaza was named in honor of Staff Sgt. Jorge Oliveira, an Essex County Sheriff’s Detective who was killed while serving in Afghanistan. He was the first Essex County employee to lose their life in the Middle Eastern conflicts.
Essex County Veterans Memorial Park is bounded by West Market Street, Howard Street, 13th Avenue and Wickliffe Street. Two small meadow areas abut both sides of the Armed Forces Memorial, walking paths transverse the park and decorative metal archways highlight the entrances on Howard and West Market Streets. The entrances are further enhanced by landscaping and ornamental brick pavers. Near the West Market Street entrance is a gazebo with a copper roof topped by an ornamental clock.