Construction on a new all-inclusive playground at the Burlington County Special Services School District is nearly complete and an early October opening is expected.
State Senator Troy Singleton, Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson and Burlington County Special Services School District officials toured the new playground site last week and received an update on its progress from MRC Rec, the New Jersey-based company that supplied the new accessible playground equipment and worked with the County on installation.
The Robert Silcox Memorial Playground will include 12,500-square-feet of safe, accessible space and equipment specially designed for children and adults with special needs. The equipment is completely accessible and barrier free and includes adaptive swings, sensory friendly walls, slides, playhouses and more.
The playground will not only be used by Special Services students but will also be open for public use when school is not in session.
“All children deserve a safe place to play and we can already see this inclusive playground will be a fantastic place for children from across the county to visit and enjoy,” said Senator Singleton. “Kudos to our Burlington County Commissioners and Burlington County Special Services School District for working together to bring this project from concept to reality.”
“Burlington County strives to be a premier destination, not just for some but for all people, and building a state-of-the-art inclusive playground reflects our commitment to ensuring all residents have access to quality recreation and education facilities,” added Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “This new playground will make Burlington County Special Services School and Burlington County as a whole a better, more welcoming place for everyone.”
The new 12,500-square foot playground was designed as a replacement for a previous one that was built decades ago at the Westampton school. Construction began last spring with site work and the removal of the old equipment. The new accessible play equipment was installed over the summer, and the final landscaping and site work will be finished this month, including installation of a new play safe surface.
The $1.3 million project is being funded through a special cost-share agreement with the Burlington County Commissioners.
The Burlington County Department of Public Works Construction Services Division also assisted with the site work and installation, contributing over 1,500 hours of labor that saved the school district and county taxpayers an estimated 15-20% on construction costs.
Construction Services crews are made up of union members from the Building and Construction Trades. These skilled workers are hired by the County for various in-house construction projects and have included pipe fitters, electricians, carpenters, masons and other construction specialists. Using them has allowed the County to complete small and medium-sized construction projects more efficiently.
In addition to the Special Services playground, the in-house construction teams were responsible for outfitting the interiors of both Burlington County Vaccine Mega-Sites located at the Moorestown Mall and the Eastgate Square Shopping Center in Mount Laurel. They also helped rebuild or make repairs to various County bridges and completed other County building renovations and construction projects.
“This inclusive playground is the latest example of the value of our labor agreements with trade unions,” said Commissioner Tom Pullion, liaison to the Department of Public Works. “We’re creating jobs for skilled union laborers and saving money and improving our county infrastructure and facilities at the same time. It’s a win-win for everyone, including county taxpayers.”
The new playground is dedicated in memory of Robert Silcox, a longtime member of the combined Burlington County Special Services School District and Burlington County Institute of Technology Board of Education.
Tyler Burrell, president of the combined Special Services/BCIT board, said the playground would be a great addition to the school campus and community at-large.
“This is a fantastic addition and I want to thank the County, MRC and our Special Services School District team for helping get it over the finish line,” Burrell said. “It’s going to be a beautiful, inclusive playground that all our students can use along with families from across Burlington County. We’re looking forward to the opening next month.”