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Council Reallocates Skate Park Funds to ADA Playground

Council has elected to reallocate $80,000 in county grants originally intended for the construction of a skate park at the former Walsh Pool to a barrier-free playground at Berdan Grove.

Residents eagerly awaiting the return of Fair Lawn's modular skatepark will have to wait a while longer.

After backing a multi-phase plan to expedite the transformation of Walsh Pool into a skate park for much of the past year, council abruptly changed course Tuesday and reallocated -- with the county's permission -- all of its skate park grant funding to the construction of a barrier-free playground at Berdan Grove.

"Berdan has been established as the perfect place [for the ADA playground]," said councilwoman Lisa Swain, who supported the $80,000 fund transfer. "That playground is overdue for a total makeover and we need to think about our residents with special needs, they need a place to go."

The reprioritization of funds comes less than a month after Fair Lawn All-Sports presented council its long-term vision to expand the Dobrow Sports Complex into the site of the former Walsh Pool. 

Rather than move forward with the skate park at this time, council will wait until All-Sports firms up its plans for the Walsh Pool site before revisiting any discussion of the skate park relocation.

"We have some breathing room on the skate park, particularly since All-Sports is going to come up with something more detailed at our request," Deputy Mayor Ed Trawinski said. "The ADA is a commitment we made and I think we should honor that first."

Having identified the barrier-free playground as its focus, council must now work with the ADA Committee to finalize design of the project and begin construction per the county's request.

"The county said that they would be receptive to moving the [grant] money to the ADA, but they want assurances that it will have a substantial impact on them actually seeing a project here," borough manager Tom Metzler said.

With initial cost estimates for the playground coming in at around a half-million dollars, the borough will have to construct the playground in steps since the $130,000 ($80,00 from the county; $50,000 matched by the borough) it has available won't cover the entire cost.

"The [ADA Committee] can look at the whole plan and break it down into pieces and decide, 'OK, for this amount of money, what can we start with?'" Swain said. "So at least there will be something on the ground."

In addition to grant funding, the ADA Committee hopes to drum up donations for the playground from local businesses and non-profit organizations, commitee co-chair Marianne Pettineo said.

While the skate park is now on hold indefinitely in favor of the playground project, council members stressed that they were not abandoning the skate park and would not renege on their commitment to the Fair Lawn fifth and sixth graders who had requested its construction.

"It's something that we've been talking about for a number of years and we bought the equipment," Deputy Mayor Jeanne Baratta said. "I'm not in favor of just scrapping that."

The borough opened the Warren Point Annex Skate Park at a converted tennis court on 30th Street and Pellack Drive in June 2011, but the set up lasted less than a month before being disassembled as a result of resident complaints.

The disassembled skate park equipment has remained in storage for the last 20 months.

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K. Sparks February 10, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Compromise Part 3 may not be immediately evident to someone who has no disability. It starts from the public right of way, transit stops, passenger loading zones and accessible parking spaces. All of these pathways to the park must be accessible. That means that there must be compliant ramps at sidewalks, surfaces on the path must be firm, stable, slip-resistant, free from changes in elevation greater than 0.25-0.5 inches and these paths must all connect to components such as restrooms, drinking fountains and pay phones (if available). Signage to assist park users should be provided to prevent unnecessary erroneous travel on paths that are not accessible. Slopes on the paths should not exceed 5% in the direction of travel or 2% from side to side. Drinking fountains and payphones, if they are provided, need to be configured to make them accessible. Restrooms have numerous requirements that dictate how they will be constructed to make them accessible per the ADA Accessibility Guidelines. If play areas or public pools are provided, there are numerous requirements that differentiate accessible versions from those that contain barriers. The list of differences between what is accessible and what constitutes a barrier in an environment, such as a park, is lengthy. Suffice to say, the differences between the two may mean the difference between full equal enjoyment and difficulty participating or exclusion. I feel for both the skateboarders because for some
K. Sparks February 10, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Compromise Part 4 reason it is often looked upon as a crime. They need a place to call their own. Architectural barriers must be removed as well. Sounds like a compromise of some sort is the best solution. “People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable. Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas. Things are not all black and white. There have to be compromises. The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.” Dwight D. Eisenhower “A lean compromise is better than a fat lawsuit.” George Herbert
Ezra P. February 11, 2013 at 02:08 PM
This is very informative information. You indicate that all paths need not be accessible - and signs should indicate such. If I am reading correctly, all paths into the park need to be accessible. At Berdan Grove do the walkways behind the playground meet the requirements - or will there need to be re-landscaping? (I have separate views on the skate park - but this is an ADA question)
K. Sparks February 11, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Ezra, I'm not sure I understand as your first two statements seem to contradict one another. When was Berdan Grove built? When was it last renovated? When was the play area installed?
Jenne March 04, 2013 at 03:24 PM
By the way, after a recent council meeting I was told not to worry about Fair Lawn All Sports' plan to destroy the playground at Walsh park, it wouldn't happen for years and my children would be grown by then. So, by "would not renege on their commitment to the Fair Lawn fifth and sixth graders who had requested its construction" I suspect the council means it won't renege, it'll just wait until those 5th and 6th graders grow up and move away to get rid of the skate park equipment.

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