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Plans for Stone Harbor’s 97th Street Playground Taking Shape

Plans for Stone Harbor’s 97th Street Playground Taking Shape

By Vince Conti

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STONE HARBOR – A lower-cost plan for the rebuilding of the 97th Street playground was presented to the Borough Council May 21 by Recreation Director Shannon MacPherson.

The project, summarized by MacPherson in March, consists of a new playground area, shade structures with benches, a resurfacing and resizing of the basketball court and construction of a new building for storage and office space, as well as public bathrooms.

At the May 21 meeting, the focus was on the playground area. Councilman Tim Carney explained that the borough had been able to lower the cost of the playground portion of the project by about $250,000 while maintaining its objectives.

The original plan called for a fully accessible playground, a facility in which a range of play experiences were to be available to children of varying abilities. The revised and less expensive plan, Carney said, preserves the goal of a largely accessible facility.

The playground, with a total of 13 stations, would have a rubber-poured safety surface with shade areas available to both children and adults. The rubber-poured surface is cheaper than using tiles, which had been considered in the first proposal.

MacPherson said the new plan also called for added equipment appropriate for the 2- to 5-year-old age group that was not part of the original proposal.

Carney said the money saved under the revised plans would be available to fund development of a new playground at 82nd Street.

The borough found itself two playgrounds down when the facilities at 97th Street and 82nd Street were deemed unsafe early in the year. The playground equipment had been damaged by the salt air conditions characteristic of a Shore community.

With the equipment removed from both locations, the borough prioritized bringing the 97th Street facility back online first, leaving the 82nd Street facility as an open area the Recreation Department will use for special programming this year.

The presentation of the original plans to the council in March set a $1.9 million price tag on the project. Even with an expected million-dollar-plus Open Space Grant from the county, the cost to the borough was estimated then at around $800,000.

The council on May 21 authorized the borough engineering firm, DeBlasio and Associates, to work with the county to substitute the new plan for the playground for the original plan that had been part of the borough’s Open Space Grant application.

The council will need to decide whether it will move forward with the playground development even as the Open Space Grant process proceeds or if it will wait for the conclusion of the county process.

For the playground work the estimate given by MacPherson was six weeks for delivery of the equipment. She was less sure of the installation time frame but said it was probably another two weeks.

If the council proceeds before the completion of the county grant process, the earliest availability for a playground at 97th Street is probably late July or early August based on the schedule MacPherson provided.

The council is expected to vote on the contract with the vendor, GameTime, at its June 4 meeting. GameTime has experience with the borough and elsewhere in the county, having done work in Wildwood Crest.

Contact the reporter, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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