WESTFIELD, NJ — Local and county officials celebrated the opening of a newly renovated playground at Mindowaskin Park Saturday.
The playground includes Victorian-inspired design elements to honor the park’s origins, according to the town. In addition to a variety of imaginative play stations that benefit children’s social and cooperation skills, as well as structures for climbing, swinging and sliding, the town announced that the new playground prioritizes inclusivity for children of all abilities with the following features:
- The Volta Inclusive Spinner, a universally designed spinning social space for all users
- The Cruiser, which serves as a wheelchair rocker
- Double-wide ramps that provide access for all
- Poured-in-place surfacing that enhances wheelchair accessibility
- Two adaptive swings
Despite chilly temperatures, families came out to experience new play space Saturday. The playground at Mindowaskin Park is the first adaptive one in Union County, said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados of the new infrastructure, the cost of which is offset with grants and donations including $65,000 from the county.
“I want Westfield to be the most inclusive town in the state,” said Mayor Shelley Brindle. “And this is the first step in doing that.” The renovation, which was scheduled to align with the park's 2018 Centennial Celebration, was delayed due to rain.
Brindle said the rainy weather helped to identify the need for additional drainage. In the past, a day of rainy weather would have left the playground unusable for days, she said.
Donations and grants totaling $560,000 offset the playground’s $850,980 cost, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said at a town council meeting in May.
The Westfield Foundation donated $400,000 to the project, Gildea said, and the Glasser Foundation and the Optimist Club of Westfield each donated $10,00. Union County gave the town matching $15,000 “Level the Playing Field” and $50,000 Kids Recreation Trust Fund grants. Much of the money used to match those grants came from the town’s recreation department, Gildea said in May.
“This was a project that The Westfield Foundation felt would be a benefit to the entire community,” said Darielle Walsh, who chairs the Westfield Foundation's Bogaert Fund.
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