Saturday, February 24, 2024

Event Postponed - See Below

UPDATE: Santa Opens Cape May’s Newly Renovated Kiwanis Park this Sunday, December 17

Kiwanis Park received numerous upgrades to better support Americans with disabilities.

From the City of Cape May

What: A festive ceremony that celebrates the park’s long-awaited ADA improvements

When: Sunday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m.

Where: Follow Santa to the park, starting at Cape May Convention Hall

The City of Cape May worked diligently to upgrade all facilities at Kiwanis Park to maximize accessibility in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after learning the City had received a Small Cities grant of $400,000 in 2022. Deputy Mayor Lorraine Baldwin and City Manager Mike Voll worked alongside a Task Force made up of City Engineer Vince Orlando, Kiwanis Club President Jennie McCaney, Kiwanis Club and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Member Robert Morris and Shaun Deignan, resident and Board of Education Member, as well as Nichol Welsh, licensed landscape architect from Engineering Design Associates in Ocean View, NJ, to analyze what improvements needed to be made.

Kids play at the playground at Kiwanis Park on a chilly Dec. 7 day. Photo Credit: Kacie Rattigan

“It isn’t just to add a handicap parking space and a paved walkway. It involves so much more to be fully inclusive of all members and all ages of the disabled community. Our design approach was to provide a community park with full inclusivity,” said Welsh when describing the initial analysis. “Many people misunderstand ADA accessibility to mean a person bound to a wheelchair, but the community is so much broader than that, so much more able than that, and so much more deserving of a park to meet all of their needs and expectations.”

The improvements added six more parking spaces and designated handicap parking space; a large bike rack to accommodate 19 bikes; a concrete pathway that meanders around the park and connects to the Madison Avenue sidewalk and to the tennis courts, with benches throughout the park for passive recreation; bollard lighting for low-level sight lighting; a fence along the perimeter of the existing basketball court to protect basketballs from going into the pond; and enlarged picnic area with more picnic tables including wheelchair accessible picnic tables.

The playground area has been reconstructed to provide an all-inclusive and accessible playground for both able-bodied children and those with physical and mental limitations, in which children of all ages can play. Rubber surfacing was poured as the safety surface around the play structures, which include a massive new inclusive play structure, new swings, spinners, climbers, slides, and sensory play components.

There is a special piece tucked to the side called the Serenity Spot. This space offers a calming sensory experience for children not ready to engage in social dynamics. It allows for a moment of self-reflection, curiosity and emotional development. There are also three sensory walls throughout the playground offering hands-on sensory stimulation and cognitive learning, in which children with hearing or visual impairments can enjoy. Also added is a vibrant palette of plant material to create perennial sensory gardens and an urban arboretum. The sensory gardens surround the picnic area and create an entrance to the park with flowering trees and perennials that provide sensory stimulation to touch and smell. 20 trees, most of which were in serious decay and decline, were replanted with a mix of 20 different varieties of tree species. Botanical signs have been provided for the trees, shrubs and perennials identifying the common name, botanical name, and providing the plant name in braille.

Command Company, out of Egg Harbor City, has been the contractor working over the course of the year to complete the project. Components of the playground came from Burke Playgrounds and Landscape Structures, Inc. and the playground distributor is Ben Shaffer Recreation.

Mayor Zachary Mullock expressed ““Too often we hear ‘there are no children left.’ While it is sad that there are less children, we still have two elementary schools on the island and a lot of kids. They shouldn’t be forgotten. Cape May is a family town and should always remain that way. I want to thank everyone involved, especially Vince Orlando, the Kiwanis Club, and our Task Force members. There is no greater joy than the sound of children playing. Since this Park has been redone that sound can be heard again and it is beautiful.”

The City will celebrate the official Grand Opening of the new and improved Kiwanis Park, along with a helping hand from Santa! Kids of all ages are encouraged to meet Santa at Convention Hall at 3:00 PM and follow him on the Fire Truck to “open” Kiwanis Park. (*Please note, transportation will not be provided.) Stay warm at the park with a cup of hot cocoa while checking out the exciting new equipment!

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