Government

Grand Opening of Willow Park Inclusive Playground Draws Huge Crowd

5740cd23be3964033489_Ribbon_Cutting.jpg
2de87ef16a12763b1eff_Mayor_Anesh.jpg
5b19b7b84d273d93c278_20180620_183415.jpg
f7d7f385af2d8475f960_20180620_184147.jpg
73dc863d29b4f24e220d_DSCN9017.JPG
00e0f2d3332202e68fee_20180620_185717.jpg
08a616f79aa3bc481571_20180620_185722.jpg
8097f476d59720ac2cbe_20180620_185725.jpg
a5ca5c6c0735aac7c50d_20180620_185755.jpg
e60bf208aa3d17c349dc_20180620_185757.jpg
7a55e6ef0f4c7bff04a3_20180620_185824.jpg
db1f27f2dd100ce97324_20180620_190254.jpg
6da85895704caf790b6b_20180620_190352.jpg
7d82a843ee1d37bdfafe_20180620_190425.jpg
4784273d750aacdb160b_20180620_190443.jpg
44b0aaee9515e57b27b3_20180620_190549.jpg
3f78cd46995016a95be3_20180620_190609.jpg
dc2e88ba4c1f59732b4d_20180620_190649.jpg
0b0a53cabd7b8c5996cd_20180620_190802.jpg
e2204d13afcb70426834_DSCN9009.JPG
4751d33ac657331ef2df_DSCN9013.JPG
b1679916f9fc1073bff5_DSCN9014.JPG
f07af8b2b6c5b2594383_DSCN9016.JPG
0ae97009288b5389488a_DSCN9018.JPG
28006ff41883d383f4e4_DSCN9019.JPG
2e41c2e5e834a98cb6b0_DSCN9020.JPG
7b5f227c77aa8a5f2d66_DSCN9022.JPG
097c9f4902d405225891_DSCN9023.JPG
9073ea860a233d94d03f_DSCN9024.JPG
c9390ea51f2868991e04_DSCN9026.JPG
fda7747f3cdd1e1d2b5e_DSCN9027.JPG
bb6881dc679ae53f43e9_DSCN9028.JPG
8ec83569ce9bb1257c54_DSCN9029.JPG
02c671617150618826c1_DSCN9030.JPG
ca7c808f0e56912d5d92_DSCN9033.JPG
643cae0d73b83f93c604_DSCN9034.JPG
b45a469a09ac8477bd3e_DSCN9035.JPG
7475f5cc2eeba7190d7d_DSCN9037.JPG
fccf4f71f5f4589f88ec_DSCN9043.JPG
de91f97379d71ac3ada0_DSCN9044.JPG
6228ba1bdfa7098b5099_DSCN9045.JPG
35889a19ad4c42206f6b_DSCN9046.JPG
612d618b572226cd5071_DSCN9049.JPG
9f91930be4e0f10f7f4c_DSCN9053.JPG
024f90d467cb72bcbad4_DSCN9056.JPG
08fbd72374fd3a0b9940_DSCN9058.JPG
13cb163028586e4e8ce1_DSCN9060.JPG
be16c8b70c9d7d92af91_DSCN9061.JPG
8dee834955e74992e372_DSCN9063.JPG
ad90926e1cb9ea3309d8_DSCN9064.JPG
e68dd098cd5adff64b4a_DSCN9065.JPG
36c7b1760f03bfa69cad_DSCN9067.JPG
5740cd23be3964033489_Ribbon_Cutting.jpg

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ  - Children of all ages and abilities filled the Willow Park Inclusive Playground at 6:30pm on June 20th for a special Storytime and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.  Located behind the South Plainfield Public Library, the Willow Park Inclusive Playground is now open thanks to a generous donation of $150,000 from the Library along with the collaboration of Councilwoman Christine Faustini with the Recreation Department and many supporters who have contributed to its swift completion. 

“I am so happy we are a forerunner of the all inclusive playground,” said Cheryl Nagel-Smiley, President of the South Plainfield Library Board of Trustees.  “I am excited to know that all children with their families in the years to come can enjoy such a space.”

“We’re just happy to be a part of anything that betters the community, particularly the handicapped children of our community,” said President of the Recreation Commission William Cochrane.  “Christine Faustini has spearheaded this whole project.  She’s a go-getter and coordinated everything with the Recreation Department and the Library.”

Sign Up for E-News

“I’m very honored to stand here and watch all the different children enjoying the playground,” said Faustini.  “I’m just happy that I had any part in making this come to fruition.  It’s a wonderful day for the South Plainfield Community.”

The Willow Park Inclusive Playground encompasses an area of approximately 50 feet by 50 feet.  It has slides, multi-sensory boards and wheelchair accessible routes with transfer points as well as a special ground base to make transportation by wheelchair or other handicap equipment easier.

“It’s great for kids,” said 8-year-old Login Springfield.   “And it’s not like all the slides are really low like some playgrounds, so I like it a lot.  It’s also good for people with disabilities because there are ramps so they can play with other kids.  So if they’re in a wheelchair, they can go up the ramps.  My favorite is the tire swing and the slide with the rollie pins on it.”

“It’s fantastic,” said Parent Vivian Springfield.  “You can see that my kids are really enjoying it and are happy it’s here.  It’s great to hit the playground after dinner and go over to the library to get a book to read before putting them into bed.”

The play structure is intended as a community playground and the objective is to include everyone, bringing children of all abilities together while providing a safe place for play.  With a sensory rich environment, the playground is developmentally appropriate for all children, removing the barriers of physical and social disabilities. 

“I think it’s nice and kids can play on it,” said 10-year-old Mary Springfield.  “It’s fun for the kids because there are lots of playground equipment there.  My favorite thing on the playground is the rope things where you have to climb on it to get to the top of the playground.”

“It’s really amazing,” said Parent Seth Hirsch.  “South Plainfield does an excellent job of being very inclusive to all the residents and all the children.  The mayor and everyone else always make sure the town progresses in the best of ways.  I think this is a great thing for the kids and I’m very happy my daughter can be around to enjoy it.” 

Library Director Linda Hansen began the Grand Opening Ceremony by gathering the children to read a children’s book called The Playground.  Faustini also joined in the reading as the children sat at their feet. 

“It’s wonderful to be able to do a storytime in conjunction with the opening of the park since we have all these programs for special needs,” said Hansen.  “We try our best to offer support for special need parents and groups.  It was wonderful to be able to take part in this storytime.”

After the story, Faustini spoke to the children and their parents about their new playground.

“I just wanted to take a minute and thank everyone for being here tonight with us,”  said Faustini.  “This playground is a very special place where everyone can just be themselves.  We’re all different and that’s what makes us all very special.  We’re all very much the same because what do we all like to do on a playground? - Play!” 

Faustini held up a finished puzzle of a puppy with a rainbow color scheme and explained that the puzzle symbolizes how everyone’s different, but everyone shares similarities.

“I just want to remind you that this is your playground,”  added Faustini speaking to the children.  “It’s not the Library’s playground or Recreation Department’s.  It’s the children’s playground…It’s everyone’s who is here today.  In order for you to take that home and remember it, I picked up a puzzle and I want each one of you to take a piece of the puzzle home with you to remind you that it’s yours.”

Mayor Matthew Anesh then had his turn to read a story.  He sat at the bottom of a slide as children gathered at his feet while he read Two Little Chicks.

“We couldn’t be happier with the way the park turned out,” said Anesh.  “We had a great crowd today.  We always see people at this park, enjoying it, so that’s what we want.  We want the park to really serve that need and I think it’s doing that.  This is great.”

As the children filled the air with bubbles, Anesh cut the rainbow colored ribbon chosen to symbolize all of the children coming together with differing abilities.  Council members stood at his sides along with representatives of Library Board Members, the Recreation Department and the South Plainfield Elks.

“I think the park is a really nice addition to the town,” said Danielle Stio, who is the parent of toddler twins.  “I like the fact that there’s turf and the equipment’s all so new.  It’s just perfect for the kids and it’s close to the library.  It’s for kids of all abilities and all ages.  My kids are three and they’re having a blast.”

In September 2017,  Elks Lodge #2298 presented the Borough of South Plainfield with a donation to purchase several adaptive swings for children with disabilities to be installed in playgrounds throughout town.  The efforts of the Elks has been expanded upon with the new playground equipment.

“One of our major charities is for special children,” said Elks Exalted Ruler Christine Sauer.  “We send children to Camp Moore, we donate ramps, we help buy wheelchairs and we help pay children’s tutoring.  If someone comes to us and they have need and cannot pay for extra help for their child, we’re always happy to help in any way we can.” 

It was just four months ago, that the South Plainfield Library Board voted unanimously to cover the cost of the inclusive playground after Faustini was advised by Director of Recreation Kevin Hughes about the size of the space needed to accommodate the playground.  She approached Darlene Cullen, then President of South Plainfield Library Board, about building the structure in Willow Park.  

“A small committee got together in February of this year and met with a playground supply company,”  said Ray Rusnak, Mayor’s Representative to the Library Board.  “A plan and design was put together and Willow Park was determined to be the perfect location.”

Chosen because of its proximity to the Library and convenience for residents, the location of the inclusive playground was a natural choice. 

“This is a great addition to this park, which has really been a revitalized park over the years,” said Anesh.  “We were always looking at expanding Willow Park and it came across very quickly with the help of the library.  You didn’t need to search high and low because there are so many activities around the library that it just made perfect sense.”

“I really like the fact that its located right behind the Police Department,” said Parent Rob Springfield.  “I feel very safe and it’s a great playground.  This town is amazing with all the activities and the things they do.  It’s a real community here that you don’t find in other towns.”

“With the expansion of the library, we have been able to increase our programs and services to more aspects of the community,”  said Nagel-Smiley.   “Part of those programs service the special needs population.  As a special needs teacher in Plainfield for 46 years, I realize how often times this population of children are overlooked unintentionally.”

The Library Board of Trustees sought advice from the New Jersey State Library, which quickly gave permission for the library to fund the inclusive equipment since the playground was next to the library.  Within no time, construction was underway and the envisioned all inclusive playground became a reality.

“My kids love playgrounds and love visiting playgrounds,” said Parent Lisa Patterson.  “And we’ve been watching this be built.  They’re so excited to actually come and play here.  They are having a blast so they’re excited.  I think this is great because it builds the community.  More people come to the library.”

“I think it’s fantastic that we promote more activities that are inclusive to all different types of people and different disabilities that they may have,”  added Vivian Springfield.  “For instance, the lollipops that they handed out tonight are peanut free, which is fantastic because both of my kids have life threatening peanut allergies so it was perfect.”

South Plainfield continues to expand its incorporation of programs and facilities to bring the community together.

“My daughter is disabled and uses a wheelchair,” said Parent Patricia Trenchak Feeney.  “As I helped her pat the toy drum on the playground after the ribbon cutting, several small children came up to us asking questions about why she needed the wheelchair and had trouble standing.  I was really struck by the fact that this is why the playground exists - to break down the barriers and allow children of all abilities the opportunity to meet one another, understand one another and even become friends.”

“I was involved in helping to get the Library built while on Council and this is just another piece of the puzzle to enhance the area, and the children will get many years of enjoyment going forward,” added Rusnak.  “I would like to thank the Library Board of Trustees and the Recreation Commission for their support of the project.”

“I really feel that the playground belongs to each child in South Plainfield,” said Faustini.  “A lot of times we cut ribbons and there are a lot of different people in the picture.  But this isn’t all about all those people in the picture, it is for the children and I want the kids to know that this is for them.  It is a place where they can make new friends and memories, a place where they’ll always be welcome and fit here.”

The Willow Park Inclusive Playground is located behind the South Plainfield Public Library and is open dawn until dusk, seven days a week.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

Obituaries

Chief Michael J. Cleary, Sr. 66, of South Plainfield, died suddenly on July 14, 2018. Born and ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Carly Kensey Graduates from ECU

July 13, 2018

GREENVILLE, NC -- Carly Kensey of South Plainfield graduated with a BA-Psychology from East Carolina University during spring commencement exercises May 4 in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The fireworks capped off a new format for ECU's 109th spring commencement ceremony, which was held in the evening for the first time.

The keynote speaker for commencement was Linda McMahon, administrator of ...

Community Happenings

Adult “crafternoon” at the South Plainfield Public Library

July 15, 2018

Crafting isn't just for kids anymore!  Come to the South Plainfield Library on Saturday July 28 at 2pm for a fun filled “crafternon” for adults with crafter Patricia Dahl.  Crafters will be decorating a wine bottle. We will supply all the materials, just come and enjoy! If you have a glue gun at home, if you could bring it to the craft program.  Registration is ...

Frist Baptist Church of South Plainfield to Host Annual Vacation Bible School

July 17, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - First Baptist Church of South Plainfield will be holding their annual Vacation Bible School program the week of August 6-10 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. This free VBS program is open to children entering Kindergarten through entering 6th grade. Children will participate in this exciting experience learning how God is faithful and keeps His promises through Bible stories, songs, ...

South Plainfield Police Hiring Per-Diem Dispatchers

The South Plainfield Police Department is accepting applications for Per-Diem Police Dispatcher.  The following are the minimum requirements for applicants:

Must be at least 18 years of age
Must have a High School diploma or GED
Must be certified in 9-1-1, EMD and CPR
Must pass a background check and a computerized Dispatch test
Must be able to multi-task while using Police, ...

Columns

Diegnan Bill to Establish Asset Forfeiture Reporting and Transparency Requirements Passes Senate

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD) – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. that establishes asset forfeiture reporting and transparency requirements passed the full Senate today.

“Across New Jersey, law enforcement can confiscate cash, cars and other property from people, often without ever charging them with a crime,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex) “While ...

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little (Dog Ear Publishing, 2015)

 

Rich Little is a national treasure; a living encyclopedia of movie stars, comedians, and former presidents all wrapped into one dynamic package. Recently, my husband and I had the good fortune to see Little perform at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, where he has been doing his uncanny ...

Bookmarks

Come join us Monday, July 23 at 6:30 PM for Monday Night Movies.  This week’s selection stars Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren, and it follows their characters as they journey across the country in a RV, rekindling their passion for life and their romance.  It is rated R.  If you cannot make it to the Monday night showing, there is a second screening on Wednesday, July 25 ...

Press Releases

ICE ERO Newark Arrests 37 Individuals in Middlesex County During Enforcement Surge

July 18, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Newark Field Office arrested 37 individuals during a five-day operation that concluded Friday, as part of the agency’s ongoing public safety efforts. The operation targeted criminal aliens who were previously incarcerated at the Middlesex County Jail (MCJ), and who were subsequently ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...