Makeover Continuing at Barnegat Project Playground
This April-like weather in February is getting people out of doors and off to the parks, hiking trails and other outdoor facilities.
But in Barnegat Township, residents are being reminded that Project Playground, located near the high school off Bengal Boulevard, remains off-limits as the 1.5-acre facility is undergoing a complete overhaul which began in November.
Mayor Albert Bille said the public works department has dismantled the playground to install all-new equipment at a cost of approximately $280,000. Bille hopes Project Playground will reopen in March or April.
“We would have liked to have started the project earlier in the fall, but that would have meant purchasing the equipment during the summer, when those items are a lot more expensive,” he said. “We did the right thing by waiting for the prices to come down.”
It was more than 10 years ago when the playground opened, with attractions including a pirate ship, miniature lighthouse, a gazebo with a 5-foot-tall model of Barnegat Lighthouse on top, sand castle, tree house, amphitheater and a variety of swings and slides. The park was initially established by a volunteer group, which subsequently turned it over to the township.
But Bille said many of the features have been deteriorating from the elements.
“This is going to be complete makeover,” said Bille. “When people come back to it, they will see a whole new playground with better equipment. We also also had problems with vandalism. We’re having security cameras installed so we can hopefully deter that from happening.”
He said the township committee had the playground in mind when it adopted a $5.5 million bond ordinance in late 2015 for numerous improvements as part of what then-Mayor Susan McCabe called a “community investment bond.”
McCabe said she had stopped by the playground recently and it is “coming to fruition.”
“We are maintaining contact with the recreation department heads to make sure that we can provide the facilities and needs so all our spring, summer and fall teams will play in comfort.”
Bille said that as the project gets near completion, the next step will be to repair “pocket parks,” small play areas located in residential neighborhoods.
“I have plans for each and every one, and hope to have some type of report to the committee by next month,” he said.
— Eric Englund