MONTVILLE, NJ – The playground at the Montville Township Community Park will be undergoing a major renovation that has been more than a year in the making, according to Recreation Director Lori Dent.

The township has been setting aside funding for the 17-year-old facility for seven years, since the current equipment is aging, according to Township Administrator Victor Canning. The project will cost approximately $650,000 due to grant aid, he said. The current equipment is inspected and maintained regularly, Canning said.

Research was step one, according to Dent, starting with the Recreation Commission surveying residents at Montville Day last year and emailing large organizations, plus placing the survey online.

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“The Kiwanis Club did such a fantastic job with the original playground back in 2001, so we wanted to make sure we talked to them, too,” she said. “There were some things that they wanted carried forward, plus, they wanted to be a part of the current renovation.”

The commission used the input “heavily,” Dent said and wound up with three separate designs from three companies to consider, eliminated one, but had a tough time choosing between the remaining two, Dent said. Ben Shaffer Recreation, Inc. in Wharton, NJ was the eventual “winner.”

The new design still includes the “Montville farm” theme with a silo, Dent said. (See the plan in the photo gallery.)

Among the reasons she is excited about the project, she said, is that “there are a lot of activities and everyone will have somewhere to go and do something. The playground gets pretty packed!”

Dent said she is also excited about the inclusive nature of the renovation. Before, there were a few swings for special needs visitors, plus two wheelchair swings in the corner of the playground. Now the swings are together, and the slides are twice the width.

“So special needs children, and all young children, can slide down the slides with an adult,” she said. She worked with Pathways for Exceptional Children President Melinda Jennis to make the playground handicap accessible, she said.

The material on the ground will be sealed rubber surfacing in the 2-5 age group area, and engineered wood chips in the rest of the areas as it is now, Dent said. The gazebo and recently renovated benches will remain. New aluminum-rail fencing to replace the split-rail fencing will be installed along the perimeter. The silo at the top of the playground will have six slides, she said. In order to allow parents of different-aged children some flexibility, where the handicap swings were at the top before, Dent said toddler swings will be installed, as well as some picnic tables, so that parents with very young kids can keep an eye on their youngest, while their older children can play on the silo slides.

Demolition is anticipated to begin in August, and construction should take about two months, Dent said. She hopes to have it up and running for Oct. 14’s Montville Day.

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