Community Foundation of New Jersey

Daily Record: All-access playground ready to open in Parsippany

August 23, 2014

Our friends at the Daily Record have a story today on the all-access playground that is about to open in Parsippany.  We at the Community Foundation of New Jersey are proud to have played a small part in this important project.  Scroll down for the full article.

All-access playground ready to open in Parsippany

Nearly three years after the first community fund-raiser, a special playground for special children is about to open at Central Park of Morris County in Parsippany.

Now sporting the name of one prime sponsor, the Morris County Park Commission will celebrate the grand opening of the Jets Play60 All Access Playground at 1 p.m. on Sept. 6. The playground is currently available during its “soft opening” period.

The playground is designed as a place where children of all abilities — including children in wheelchairs — can have fun together on equipment designed to be safely and easily accessed by all.

The genesis of the project can be traced to a group of Morris County moms frustrated by having to travel more than an hour to give their handicapped kids a chance to play on such a facility.

“Now they can play right here at home,” said Stuart Lasser, the Park Commission liaison to the Morris County Parks Alliance Board. “It means a lot to children in need, and as Central Park evolves, it truly will be the Central Park of Morris County.”

Carved out of 306 acres of the former Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital campus — acquired by the county in 2004 — Central Park of Morris County features several athletic facilities and fields, including a challenger softball field designed for wheelchair-bound athletes. Now, thanks to the fund-raising efforts of local moms and some key sponsors, the $350,000 playground elevates Central Park to status as one of the most handicapped-accessible recreation facilities in the state.

Designed for children ages 5 to 12 and set on a seamless, poured safety surface, a series of wide ramps give access to the children to play on swings (including a wheelchair-platform swing), slides, tunnels, spring rides and music makers.

Primary funding partners include the Florham Park-based New York Jets, who donated $40,000 to the cause and brought a busload of star players to the groundbreaking last October, including quarterback Geno Smith, Dee Milliner and Quinton Coples. Smith and his teammates helped children plant cherry trees during the groundbreaking to provide shade in the future to the area.

Other major donors to the project include the Community Foundation of New Jersey, the Dearhaven Fund, Finish Line Stores, Morristown Medical Center, and Wyndham Worldwide.

“There were also a lot of individuals in the community that stepped up to provide significant support, without which this could not have been accomplished,” Lasser said.

At least one Morris county couple made an anonymous contribution of $25,000 to the cause.

Lasser also praised the efforts of the Park Commission and Assistant Deputy Director Denise Lanza, as well as the Morris County families who spearheaded community fund-raising and volunteered most of the non-contractor labor required to build the facility

“If we can’t find them a cure today, we just want to be able to give our kids a fun day at the playground with their siblings and friends,” said Morris Township resident Tiffany Srnensky, mother of Ninalee, who took a leadership role in organizing the community effort. Ninalee suffers from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which confines her to a wheelchair.

“We would go to a playground and poor Nina was isolated,” Srnensky said. “When she was younger, I could carry her, but when she got bigger, we needed the wheelchair, and so many playgrounds have wood chips on the ground, making it very difficult to get around.”

Future plans call for a shade structure over the playground. Donations are still being collected for the project for future additions and improvements. Donations of $250 will be recognized at the playground with a decorative balloon plaque on the fence surrounding the equipment.

For more information, or to donate, contact Lanza at 973-326-7615 or dlanza@morrisparks.net.