Vineland drives handicapped friendly playground and garden for kids, adults
VINELAND – A park especially intended for the pleasure of children and adults with disabilities isn’t a new idea, but they’re still a rarity in New Jersey.
Vineland intends to cure this lack, fast, for its occupants in addition to its neighbors. It is customizing what’s called a “Jake’s Place,” the first of that can be in Cherry Hill.
“The concept is it’s an ‘all-inclusive’ park, where not only people with disabilities but children that don’t have any disabilities could all join together,” said town Solicitor Richard Tonetta. “For example, it might have a swing set that would hook up to a wheelchair.
“It’s really a really cool thing,” Tonetta stated recently. “Now, we’re taking it a little bit further. We are including not only for children, but for adults. Because you can have someone that’s developmentally disabled, they have the body of a 25-year-old but the mind of a younger child. And so, there was really nothing for any of those people to enjoy.”
The city’s interest in the job goes back nearly two decades, but Mayor Anthony Fanucci chose to begin ahead of New Jersey approving structure financing. A job similar to this below the state’s “Jake’s Law’’ has priority on funding, however.
“This project is very special to me,” Fanucci stated Wednesday. “I know first-hand how important it is that the desires of all of our children are met and that they are all able to enjoy what life has to offer. Our plan is that every child should be able to enjoy this wonderful, inclusive park. It should be a no judgment zone where children can play, laugh, and have fun together.”
Tonetta said the mayor also wants a “sensory garden” attached to the playground for the sake of individuals with disabilities.
“What it is is kids that are on ‘the spectrum,’ autistic, their senses are what they (gardens) develop,” Tonetta said. “And so, this sensory garden is something that has colors and sounds and things to that nature that get the kids active a bit.”
The city’s version is going to be constructed indoors Joseph E. Romano Youth Sports Complex away Maple Road in northeastern Vineland. A entire cost estimate along with a timetable are unsettled, but the layout period is moving ahead with a current $21,500 devotion from town.
On Feb. 9, the City Council accepted a contract with Vannote-Harvey Associates. An engineering company in Cape May Court House, it formerly obtained a arrangement to design a Jake’s Park for Cape May County.
Under this contract, Vannote-Harvey also will use town officials in discussions with the country Green Acres program. Vineland is implementing to Green Acres for financing.
Vannote-Harvey initially put into a proposal to the city in December 2019. It upgrades that proposition in June 2020.
The suggestion is approving of employing the sport complex to sponsor the playground, since it becomes heavy usage today. The proposal also notes that this sort of a centre tends to develop into a “destination point” for individuals from outside the municipality.
Tonetta stated the playground, if placed inside the present walking trail, are making very good use of vacant space. “And that way, parents can be walking around the track, watching their kids, making sure everything is good,” he explained.
The Vannote-Harvey proposal estimates which, layout work apart, its general invoice would top $200,000. The biggest portion of this will be $116,000 for tackling construction action.
“We look forward to reviewing the engineer’s concepts and budget in preparation to submit our application for Green Acres funding this Spring,” Fanucci said. “Although the state has not yet issued a Notice of Fund Availability, we expect that decisions and announcements of approved project applications would occur in late Fall.
“Ultimately, we want this to be a place where children can play together with their peers, family, friends, and neighbors without experiencing physical or social barriers to inclusion,” Fanucci added.
New Jersey adopted Jake’s Law in August 2018 offering incentives to counties and municipalities to build playgrounds for children and adults with disabilities. The law is associated with a Cherry Hill playground, Jake’s Place, that had been created in honor of Jacob Cummings-Nasto.
Cummings-Nasto was born with a heart condition and died from surgical complications when he was 2 and a half.
Joseph E. Romano Youth Sports Complex was dedicated on Sept. 6, 2001 in honor of a former mayor. Construction followed for more than two years on the complex.
The complex is situated on state-owned land behind the Vineland Developmental Center. The city leases the land from the state, and the lease is due for renewal.
Joe Smith is a N.E. Philly native transplanted to South Jersey more than 30 years ago. ‘I am the Roman emperor, and am above grammar.’ He is a former editor and current senior staff writer for The Daily Journal in Vineland, Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, and the Burlington County Times. Have a tip? Reach out at (856) 563-5252 or [email protected] or follow me on Twitter, @jpsmith-dj. Help support neighborhood journalism using a subscription.