WESTFIELD, NJ — The playground at Mindowaskin Park will be closed from about July through August for the installation of all-new, handicap-accessible equipment, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said at the town council’s meetings Tuesday night.
Donations and grants totaling $560,000 will offset the playground’s $850,980 cost, he said.
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.
“You might say it’s a lot of money for a playground. It is. Believe it or not, a playground of this size actually does cost in the neighborhood of $300,000,” Gildea said at the council’s conference meeting Tuesday.
The biggest expense, he said, is the poured-in-place rubberized surface that enables the playground to be completely handicap-accessible.
“The surface is even more expensive than the playground equipment,” Gildea told the council.
The Friends of Mindowaskin Park has asked that the the color of the slides, shown as red on the drawing he presented that night, be changed to something more tan, or a softer color, he said.
“Everything we’ve installed there has been more natural colored, because it’s right across the street from the neighbors there,” Gildea said.
The new playground will be the last piece in a series of improvements being made to Mindaskin in honor of the park’s 100-year anniversary this June. Last year, Mindowaskin Pond was dredged and restored and park pathways and lighting were fixed. More work on pathways is planned for this summer, as well as plantings, Gildea said. The New Jersey Audubon Society has given the town a grant for native species trees and other plantings to be added to the park.