BARNEGAT – You could hear the oohs and aahs from parents as they walked onto the newly renovated Project Playground. From the kids, all you could hear was laughing and playing.
Project Playground is situated on Bengal Boulevard, across from Barnegat High School and the Joseph T. Donahue Elementary School. There used to be a wooden pirate ship and other amenities. But it started to show its age, and township officials made the decision to take it down and replace it.
In its place is several large jungle gym structures, many swings, a pavilion area (which can be reserved for parties), and more. There is lighting and cameras that are connected to the police station. There are park facilities for various age groups, including children with special needs.
A few more punchlist items are still to be added, said Jeanne Broadbent, the township’s director of recreation. They are still waiting on fencing, so that there will only be one way in or out of the park. A rubber mat will be placed under a piece of equipment that kids can sit on and spin. The rubber mulch had started to kick out from the kids using the device, so the mat should help with that. The large, open areas of the park will be seeded with grass, she said.
These areas will remain open so children have some places to run around and play, Mayor Albert Bille said.
There was a ceremonial groundbreaking on May 27, where Bille said he gave away more than 400 commemorative Frisbees to kids. He also stopped by the park on June 4 to give out some more.
Project Playground began as a community-wide fundraising and building project 15 years ago. A throwback to that is still there today, with a sign in one corner advertising “Koradigo Cove.” Koradigo comes from the first letters of the last names of the people who spearheaded the construction.
The wooden pickets purchased as fundraising for the original wooden park were intended to be salvaged for display in the new park, officials said. Unfortunately the deterioration was too extensive, and a sign will be erected in the near future with the names of those individuals, families and businesses that donated funds to build the original park.
The work is being done by Liberty Parks and Playgrounds, in the amount of about $270,000.
Project Playground was the centerpiece of a township-wide park improvement project, hitting every park in town.
“Everybody will have a better park than they had (at the beginning of the year),” Bille said.
The Township Committee awarded the sweeping project to Liberty Parks and Playgrounds for $146,958, a figure officials have said is very good for the amount of work being done.
Most of the other parks are done, with a few little changes to be made.
The skate park’s opening date has been pushed to August, Broadbent said. The 1st Street park work is on hold so that some soil sampling can be done. The basketball court was sinking, so they want to make sure to find out what the problem was, thinking it might be insufficient fill.