Lakewood’s Shenandoah Park Playground To Undergo Upgrades

From seesaws and teeter totters to slides and from swings to monkey bars, Ocean County is upgrading traditional playgrounds in several Ocean County parks in order to make them accessible for all children.

“Children have different abilities and we want to provide all children the opportunity to enjoy outside recreational activities at our playgrounds,” said Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, Chairwoman of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. “With warm weather approaching we are looking forward to opening these new playgrounds to children of all ages and skills.”

The upgrades to the playgrounds include installing new equipment that could be used by children who rely on wheelchairs, need help with mobility or have other disabilities that may hinder them from participating on standard playground equipment.

With its pour in play rubber surface, along with a sensory area, swings that can accommodate a child and parent, a slide and other recreational equipment, boasting bright colors, the new playground at Freedom Fields County Park, Route 539, Little Egg Harbor Township, is the first of the Ocean County parks to offer the new upgraded playground to visitors.

Haines noted the Ocean County Board of Commissioners has made it a priority to invest in the new facilities and is using funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act as well as the New Jersey Green Acres Jakes Law Grant.

The Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation is also working on upgrades to the playgrounds at Lake Shenandoah Park, Lakewood, Beaver Dam Creek County Park, Point Pleasant, and Stanley “Tip” Seaman County Park, Tuckerton.

Upgrades to these facilities are expected to be completed during the summer months.

“The Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation is working with designers to create the custom playgrounds,” Haines said. “All surfaces are pour in play rubber which will provide easier access for children in wheel chairs or other mobility devices. Each of these playgrounds will have a different theme with many different structures, sensory play, and features.”

Ocean County secured grant money from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Jakes Law Grant to fund the construction and installation of a fully inclusive playground at Enos Pond County Park in Lacey Township.

Jake’s Law, which passed in 2018, encourages counties to build inclusive playgrounds that exceed the standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act and result in accommodating people with disabilities to the greatest degree possible.

“These new playgrounds will allow all of our children to enjoy being children,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Barbara Jo Crea. “The improvements will open up a new world of recreation for many children. It will make a special difference to them.”

In upcoming months, the Parks Department will also be upgrading three additional playground facilities as well as building a brand new playground.

The process has begun to upgrade two outdated playgrounds in Ocean County Park, Lakewood, including one by the picnic area, and the other known as Slide City. Slide City playground will also feature an attached workout area with state-of-the-art fully functional outdoor workout equipment.

Patriots Park Sports Complex, Jackson Township, is scheduled to receive a similar upgrade with sports themed play equipment also with an attached workout area for a multigenerational family experience. A brand new playground is planned to be constructed at the newly acquired Matthews McKinley Park in Lakewood.

“We are so pleased to be able to offer these upgraded accessible playgrounds to our residents and visitors and we encourage everyone to use them,” Haines said. “While many of the upgraded playgrounds will be ready for use this summer, we expect to have all the upgrades completed by the summer of 2025.”

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