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Stone Harbor Weighs Options for 97th Street Playground

A rendering of Stone Harbor’s proposed 97th Street inclusive playground.

By Vince Conti

STONE HARBOR — Deteriorating conditions leading to an unsafe environment caused the borough to remove playground equipment from two of its playgrounds, at 82nd and 97th streets. Now Stone Harbor is considering its options for the 97th street site.

A $1.9 million plan is before the council while the town awaits word from the county on an open space grant that could significantly reduce the project cost to taxpayers.

Recreation Director Shannon MacPherson gave the governing body a presentation of the plan for 97th Street at the council’s Tuesday, March 19, meeting. She pointed to playground safety surface options as one of the largest variables affecting overall cost.

Borough Engineer Marc DeBlasio said he thought the odds were good that the county would approve the open space grant application, which would net the borough roughly $1 million toward the construction costs. The borough already has a local recreation improvement grant for $78,000 that it can apply to the project.

On safety surfaces, Councilwomen Robin Casper and Jen Gensemer pointed out the environmental concerns with artificial turf, a polymer. The option of wood chips would place the borough back where it was before, with chip runoff during rainfall, leaving the most expensive option, rubber pour, in place.

The $1.9 million price tag for 97th Street made use of the rubber pour-in-place surface option to calculate costs for the project. According to MacPherson, if the borough were to receive the county grant and also applied the smaller recreation improvement grant, the cost to the borough for the project would be roughly $800,000.

MacPherson said that the time frame for the project would be nine to 13 weeks for order and delivery, along with four weeks for installation. That appears to mean that the work at the playground, even with an immediate decision by the borough to move ahead, would at best be completed in mid to late summer.

Gensemer asked MacPherson to “get the word out using social media and other avenues.” She said the council needs to hear from the public on the plan, especially from neighbors of the site.

The project, summarized by MacPherson, 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.

The 82 Street playground also has had its equipment removed.  The open lot will serve as a location for appropriate recreation activities until the borough develops a plan for the space.

A rendering of Stone Harbor’s proposed 97th Street inclusive playground.
Reporter

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

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