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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Analysis

Stone Harbor Playground Work Awaits County Decision

Stone Harbor Playground Work Awaits County Decision

By Vince Conti

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STONE HARBOR – Despite some early optimism that the 97th Street playground would reopen with new equipment this summer, the reality is that proper financial management of the task may dictate otherwise.

The borough has a $1.9 million project planned to completely redo the playground with new equipment and a new play surface, as well as the construction of a new storage area and restrooms, and an enlarging of the currently less-than-regulation basketball court. Officials are looking to the county open space grant process as the potential source of up to $1.1 million of the total expense.

Stone Harbor Councilman Tim Carney publicly reported on a recent meeting with the county, saying that the county was favorably inclined toward the project but also noting that formal approval of the grant has not yet happened.

What the borough is looking for is a positive recommendation by the Open Space Committee to the Board of County Commissioners for funding, as well as an agreement that borough funds used for playground equipment and surfacing would count as the borough’s match under the grant terms.

The council still has not authorized the purchase of the playground equipment because members think it wise to wait for more definitive county news on the grant and an agreement that the borough spending would be counted toward the grant’s match requirement.

With an estimated six-week delivery time on equipment and a minimum two-week installment window, the playground is less and less likely to see any use this summer.

The council sees the progress made to date as advantageous to the borough. A large county grant, which seems likely, would reduce the burden on taxpayers, and a $250,000 reduction in the cost of the playground-only area has freed those funds for the refurbishment of the 82nd Street playground, which is next on the list of recreation areas in need of investment.

The next council meeting is scheduled for July 2. Given the estimates on ordering and installation, a vote even then to move ahead with the 97th Street playground equipment would place an opening of the playground very close to Labor Day.

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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