Bergen County recently received a matching $1 million grant from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and the Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT) to construct a completely inclusive playground at Riverside County Park South, in North Arlington and Lyndhurst, County Executive James J. Tedesco III, the Bergen County Board of Commissioners and the county’s Parks Department said.
Completely inclusive playgrounds, or adaptive playgrounds, allow for people of all age groups and abilities to enjoy the county park. Features of these playgrounds include proper safety surfaces, shading, fencing and a quiet play area. These features will be supported by improved lighting, safer walking routes within the park, new pedestrian access points and closer parking facilities.
“It is important to make sure that our residents of all abilities are accommodated here in Bergen County,” Tedesco said. “Our mission to create completely inclusive playgrounds in our county parks serves as a reminder that we are committed to addressing the needs of our community, and that we will always have the people at the forefront of everything we do.”
County Commissioner Steven A. Tanelli, who is the commission’s liaison to the parks department, agrees.
“Every child in Bergen County deserves the opportunity to play with their friends in a safe environment that is responsive to their needs,” Tanelli, of North Arlington, said. “This grant ensures our commitment to not only construct more inclusive playgrounds across the county but also our wish to see all children, regardless of their challenges, be kids.”
The project is expected to go out to bid for construction later this fall. The $1 million follows guidance outlined by Jake’s Law, which was signed in August 2018 by Gov. Philip D. Murphy to encourage counties to construct inclusive playgrounds for children and adults with disabilities.
The addition of a completely inclusive playground is part of the third phase of the ongoing Riverside County Park revitalization project.
In accordance with the 2019 Bergen County Parks Master Plan, the county has invested in increasing the park’s offerings and expanding recreational opportunities. Phase one and two of the park’s overhaul includes the construction of a rowing center to provide unprecedented access to the Passaic River, a new amphitheater for community performances, new restrooms, paved walking paths and more.
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