DENVILLE, NJ – More than 160 Denville residents heeded the call for volunteers to help install equipment and spread wood chips on Sept. 22-23 for the rebuild of the Gardner Field playground. Their efforts leave the town less than one month until the ribbon-cutting, barring inclement weather.
Over the weekend, the volunteer crews completed the bulk of the work. They dug holes and poured concrete for the footings, installed the wooden structure designated for small children, spread woodchip mulch and began refurbishing the gazebo. The remaining tasks include completing the other equipment finishes and the gazebo roof, mending the fence and installing the special flooring around the smaller wooden structure.
The town was able to save and reuse some of the equipment from the original playground. The suspension bridge will stay in the Gardner Field playground, while the car and train already have been deployed to the Riverside Drive playground.
According to Denville Mayor Tom Andes, residents are quite eager for the completion of the new playground. When asked to explain its popularity, Andes said “it starts with the design.” To help design Project Playground 2.0, the town retained Design for Fun, the same designer used 22 years ago for Project Playground ‘96.
“It’s a safe, enclosed environment. Parents loved it because, except during football season, there is only one way in and out,” Andes noted. “Also, there are segregated areas for small children and older children, and the equipment is fun.”
Andes also explained that the gazebo serves as a central location for the parents to watch their children and allows everyone to enjoy the sun and shade according to preference. The Denville Rotary Club made a major donation toward the construction of the gazebo in 1996.
Andes speaks fondly of Project Playground 2.0 and is considered by many to be an expert in playground design and construction. Not only did he chair Project Playground ’96, he also has the distinction of installing three town playgrounds within a three-year span.
Denville Township has eight other playgrounds. All eight have been upgraded within the last 20 years.