Thursday, June 12, 2008
BY ERICA ZARRA
of the Montclair Times
A universal playground in Montclair will soon be built.
During the meeting on Tuesday, the Township Council approved two resolutions concerning an "All-Children's Playground" to be erected in Edgemont Memorial Park.
The full-access outside facility will feature play stations, a playground surface and entrances that are designed to accommodate children with disabilities and special needs.
The council members purchased $140,656 worth of playground equipment from Marturano Recreation Co.
They also awarded a $282,000 contract to JC Landscape Construction & Management Co. for the playground's design and construction.
A portion of the funds for such improvements has been appropriated through bond ordinances and additional finances, some of which were from private donors.
"The support in this community warmed my heart and was a wonderful tribute to Montclair," Township Manager Joseph Hartnett said.
The Township Council committed $200,000 to the project and the municipality obtained a $50,000 state grant toward it.
The remainder of money was secured through private donations and fundraising efforts, including those by Parents Who Rock, a locally based organization of mothers and fathers who had performed rock music professionally or as amateurs.
Second Ward Councilwoman Robin Schlager, who chaired a subcommittee of the project, called the playground "a great example of what this town can do working with a lot of people."
"No matter what the price tag was, many people in town embraced an all-access playground," Schlager said.
Hartnett concurred, saying, "This has been the most rewarding experience since being township manager in Montclair. Over 200 Montclair families sent in their checks ... from every single neighborhood. The support for the playground covered every area, every nook and cranny of Montclair."
The Council Chamber was packed with supporters of the project, many of whom cheered when the resolutions were approved.
"The support has been overwhelming," said Susan Irby of Montclair's People with Disabilities Advisory Committee, who is also a member of the fundraising committee.
Irby, who helped lead the idea of an all-access playground years ago, said the project represents "education and awareness about community inclusion."
Irby's daughter, Rebecca, added that the playground reflects the "equality and promotion of diversity" integral in Montclair.
Alma Schneider, the founder of Parents Who Rock, thanked the council members and the "people in Montclair who stepped up." Schneider told The Times that an official groundbreaking ceremony likely will occur soon.
Members of the Friends of Edgemont Park Committee said they were in favor of the playground, but noted concerns such as parking and landscaping in the vicinity.
They also articulated a feeling of not being fully informed of the effort.
Thursday, June 12, 2008