Gary Buchheister, Director, Westwood Recreation Department
A 1990 Graduate of Trenton State College (now TCNJ), Gary has more than 25 years of experience in parks, recreation and public administration. He started his career working for the City of Hackensack in 1992 and held administrative positions in Ridgefield, Rutherford and Teaneck before taking over as Director of Westwood Recreation in May 2008.
One of the first tasks Gary took on in Westwood was working together with former Mayor John Birkner and the Westwood Governing Body to finally transform the old garbage dump into a state-of-the-art multi-purpose park facility now known as Westvale Park. Working together with Boswell Engineering to design the overall park, Gary is most proud of the 100% ADA accessible playground installed in 2011.
The following major capital projects have been completed since he arrived: new playground at Voorhis Park; new LED lighting, scoreboards and flooring in the Community Center gym; tennis court renovation in McKinley Park; renovation of the basketball court and LED lights at Brookside Park. Together with former Councilman Peter Grefrath, he coordinated an Adopt-a-Bench program that has added more than 40 benches at various parks in Westwood at no cost to the Borough.
Gary created the wildly popular ForeverYoung health, fitness and social program for adults 55+ where residents enjoy several exercise classes, seminars and the popular indoor and outdoor pickleball program for free. He has added numerous programs for children and adults ages 3-years-old+, transformed a preschool play group to a highly structured Pres-school, energized the Summer Playground Program with new activities and started a summer before/aftercare program. He also transformed the Summer Concert Series into a “must-attend” event for residents and neighbors alike. But it’s some of his sports association accomplishments that Gary is most proud of, including the expansion of the recreation and travel basketball leagues, the introduction of a girls travel field hockey program and the management of the Westwood Junior Wrestling team.
However, of all the classes, programs and events that the Department oversees, Gary believes it is the Special Needs Activity Program (SNAP) initiated in 2010, that has had the biggest impact on its participants. The program improves the quality of life through athletic and arts programming to create positive recreational and social experiences for children and young adults (ages 3-25) who have a physical or learning disability. In February 2020, SNAP was awarded the New Jersey Recreation & Parks Association Jacquie Stanley Excellence in Therapeutic Programming Award.
Gary lives in Dumont with his wife Maureen and his children Kyle, Lindsey and Shannon. He is a long-time suffering Mets and Jets fan!
Gary is always interested in hearing from residents about new programming ideas. You can email him at email@example.com.
Margaret McDonough, Administrative Assistant
When you call the Recreation Department you are sure to be greeted by Margaret’s friendly and familiar voice. Margaret started her career in the Public Relations Council on Fifth Avenue, NYC and after 10 years came back to work in N.J. She joined the Recreation Department 20 years ago. As the Administrative Assistant and office manager, she has been vital in coordinating dozens of town events and programs and helped to create the Movies in the Park program, revived the Concerts in the Park program and created the Senior Van program.
As a native of Radburn, N.J. she chose Westwood as the place to raise her family after marrying. In her spare time, she has volunteered for multiple organizations and has served on several Committees and Boards, managed her son’s baseball team and been a Cub Scout Leader. She considers it an honor and pleasure getting to know the residents and being part of the very special community of Westwood. You can contact Margaret at 201-664-7882 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RoseAnn Ciarlante, Recreation Aide
RoseAnn Ciarlante is the newest member of the Westwood Recreation Department, bringing two-decades worth of public relations, marketing and event planning skills to the position of Recreation Aide.
As editor of many of the department’s newsletters, brochures, guides, flyers, web and social media communications, RoseAnn strives to streamline how residents receive information about programs and events hosted by the department. RoseAnn also assists in the planning and coordination of many of the department’s community engagement events.
Since arriving in Westwood in 2017, RoseAnn has joined-in on the community’s long-standing volunteer tradition as a member of the Friends of the Westwood Library and Celebrate Westwood. Her favorite Westwood park is McKinley Park because that’s where the tennis courts are located! She can be found there most Sundays as a participant in the TGA Adult Tennis classes.
You can email RoseAnn at email@example.com.
Pre-School, Head Teacher, Pre-School Summer Camp Director
After more than a decade as Head Teacher of the Westwood Recreation Department Pre-school, Natalie, Mrs. Boes to her students, is still delighted by the curiosity and wonder of the preschoolers in her care. With a goal of introducing Westwood’s youngest learners to a structured but engaging first school setting, Mrs. Boes works to ensure that all her students are prepared for a successful transition into Kindergarten. Arts and crafts, science, community exploration and guided play all round out the literacy and numeracy curriculum Mrs. Boes oversees. Most importantly, Mrs. Boes builds socialization skills in the classroom through music, seasonal topics and sharing of stories and ideas. Mrs. Boes’ friendly and active approach to teaching ensures that Westwood Recreation Pre-school students look forward to being a part of the classroom, building a solid foundation for elementary school learning. Additionally, for the past eight years, Natalie has been the Summer Pre-school Camp Director.
Mrs. Boes is a graduate of Rutgers University with a B.A. in Psychology, emphasis in Special Education. She lives in Westwood with her husband of 32 years and her beloved black schnauzer named Bentley, as well as her three children – a son at Rutgers Law School and two daughters -- one majoring in neuroscience and the other majoring in sign language/interpreting.
Pre-School Assistant Teacher
K-3 Summer Playground Camp Director
Kim or Mrs. Quill as her students have come to know her, has been teaching alongside Mrs. Boes for nearly a decade. Her warm and caring manner helps students find confidence in their growing abilities as they explore big concepts through circle time, read-alouds, and guided playtime. For the past six years, Mrs. Quill has served as Camp Director for the K-3 Summer Playground Program where she oversees the day-to-day operations of the camp including counselor training and activities coordination.
Mrs. Quill is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Economics. She lives in Westwood with her husband of 32 years and her treasured pet rabbit Benjamin, as well as her three grown children who are all graduates of Dickinson College and former Summer Playground Camp counselors.