WESTFIELD, NJ — Residents are petitioning the town to build a fence around a local playground, something the municipality has identified as a key priority in a recently approved parks plan.
As of Tuesday, 312 people had signed the petition requesting the fence be installed around the Mindowaskin Park playground in an effort to safeguard children from traffic and a nearby stream. In recent years, the play space underwent significant renovations, including the addition of equipment accessible to handicapped children. The petition says the playground’s new design obstructs caregivers’ sightlines and makes it easy for children to slip out of view.
“We must be proactive and make this fence a top priority for our town,” the petition started by Brianna Rosenbaum states. “Residents were told almost a year ago that shrubs were being put in as a ‘natural barrier.’ That has not yet happened, and we would like to forgo that option while instead having a fence installed in Spring 2020. A fence will be more effective.”
The municipality’s parks plan, recently approved by the Town Council, lists installation of the fencing as a priority, Kim Forde, spokeswoman for the town, said.
“Mindowaskin Playground fencing is indeed one of the short-term recommendations in the Strategic Parks Plan that will be evaluated, like all Plan recommendations, as the available funding is reviewed and allocated,” Forde said in a statement Tuesday. “The pathways in the park must first be replaced, which we anticipate completing over the next few months, as that process will help determine the specific placement of any fencing.”
The parks plan recommends the fencing be completed within two years. The plan estimates the cost of the fencing at $34,000. It is among $569,000 in improvements proposed for Mindowaskin Park and $41.68 million in improvements proposed for parks and recreational facilities throughout the municipality, according to the parks plan. The town is considering implementing the improvements over the next 10 years, the plan says.
Debby Burslem, president of the Friends of Mindowaskin Park, noted the wide public support of the fencing. Burslem said that since the playground’s renovation, use of the equipment has skyrocketed.
“The Friends have been contacted by many concerned residents and non-residents looking to see why there isn’t a fence around the playground and looking to see why the playground can’t be moved away from the water and away from the road,” Burslem said.
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