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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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broken promise February 07, 2013 at 02:30 PM
i am a big supporter of the ADA playground and think it should be on the top of the list of priorities. however i dont see how this is fair to all the kids who were promised a skate park. kids get kicked out of parks for skate boarding and it is dangerous for them to be skating in the streets. all it takes is a car turning a corner as a skateboarder goes by and the consequences could be fatal. the longer a skaepark is put off the more likely this is to happen. unfortunatly this is how i believe this will play out; berdan will be revised for ADA, all sports will build new baseball fields to add on to the massive sports complex they already have, the skate park will pushed into a tiny corner so it does not intrude on All sports fields and will be poorly done or not done at all. i hope i am wrong but it seems like FLAS and FL football association has all the connections in town and basically get what they want, and i dont think they want some "punk" skateboarders near thier precious fields. the fair plan would have been, ADA revision for berdan, skatepark and sprinkler park at walsh, and all sports just keep the fields they have because they are already nicer than what is neccessary for youth sports.
broken promise February 07, 2013 at 02:38 PM
my comment does not reflect any negative feelings about the ADA park. at berdan. with all the special need children in town i think it is about time we have a park where they can play. i just believe the skate park will not happen or it will be so small or poorly designed no one would care to use it. i strongly believe the Walsh pool complex will be taken over by All sports and i really dont think that is fair. i have kids in All sports program now and the current fields are fine. i grew up in FL as well and the fields were fine back then. kids dont care how fancy the fields are they just want to play. for some reason the parents who run all sports and the football association think our fields should look like division 1 fields.
getswabbed February 07, 2013 at 03:33 PM
wonderful news!
ORION February 07, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Absolutely not fair to the kids that have been patiently waiting for this skate park. Find other ways to get the money you need. There is a certain demographic of kids that are being cheated and almost segregated because someone doesn't think it's as important for the skate park as something else. If we don't do for the lessor than we don't do for any at all.
shawn cochrane February 07, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Has anybody really put any thought into this.there are special needs kids who love to skate and watch skaters its a great rush for them. Why seperate or segragate lets teach the youth of today that special needs and not special needs Both have one thing in common NEEDS . Lets break the barrior and take inclusion to another level be the first to create an everyones world fun park
Just Facts February 07, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Build it and they will Come!
Karl Krayola February 07, 2013 at 08:16 PM
I'm confused, when did we elect Fair Lawn All Sports, a PRIVATE organization who uses our fields for free and hides its books from public inspection? Its time our council either takes their responsibilities seriously or steps down so those who can, will. What is All Sports hiding? Where are the books?
Fair Lawn Skater February 07, 2013 at 09:17 PM
As a resident of fair lawn, i find it completely unnecessary to build and spend the money for another playground. There are several playgrounds (at least 10) located throughout Fair Lawn, each getting better then the next. Having one of this size and this expensive is a little over board. As a skateboarder in Fair Lawn, we have patiently waited many years for the skatepark to come, and we got it taken away from us in the matter of weeks. In addition, I feel the reasons that they took the skatepark away are invalid, and some may even be excuses to have the skatepark removed. If specific details are wanted on why the skatepark was removed, im sure you can find a report on the internet. As a town, Fair Lawn should recognize that they made promises that they are not keeping, and are building other means of entertainment to the point it seems they are "spitting in our faces". It is clear that skateboarders are not well liked in Fair Lawn, but give me reasons why we should not have a skatepark?
Fair Lawn Skater February 07, 2013 at 09:20 PM
No, the ADA needs to understand that there are FAR TOO MANY playgrounds in fair lawn and building another is not only a waste of land, time and money, it can also an insult to skaters that were promised a park! This is UNFAIR IN MANY WAYS AND MUST BE CHANGED
Fair Lawn Skater February 07, 2013 at 10:50 PM
OR do what they PROMISED and build the skatepark! You must be pretty foolish to think people come come into a skatepark, lift all the ramps out and steal them overnight. Yes, itll be possible, with 5 pick up trucks and a forklift.... They will not be able to get away with that, don't bring up invalid points please.
Fair Lawn Resident February 08, 2013 at 12:51 AM
I am really just annoyed at what's happening right now. All the money spent on the skatepark is being blown off and going to another playground. There are multiple playgrounds in the town and a remodel or buying a new one isn't necessary. Try placing something that the town doesn't have. Also, there are different kids in our town. We have baseball players, football players, etc. They have their own multiple fields while the skateboarders have NONE. That is unfair for them. I, myself as a skateboarder really enjoyed the skatepark just like all the other people that have participated in it. I have been waiting for it to reopen and hearing that it won't happen and the funds are going to remodeling a park is just infuriating.
Fair Lawn Resident February 08, 2013 at 12:57 AM
first of all the plan was to be moved to a bigger spot so it couldnt be small amd there are many skateboarders from our town and other towns that would come to the skatepark. many kids would care to use it
Jack O'Neil February 08, 2013 at 03:36 PM
The inclusionary playground is planned for Berdan Grove which needs upgrading anyway. This is an existing facility, and NOT a NEW park. It will be designed to serve ALL of Fair Lawn's youth. The skate park has been delayed , not abandoned. Fund raising will defray much of the cost of renovation. Fair Lawn has been at the forefront of supporting citizens with disabilities, and continues to support inclusionary programs and projects.
bs February 08, 2013 at 04:45 PM
im confused, looking at the proposed drawings i dont see what makes this ADA park different from the parks we currently have. can anyone fill me in? i would really love to hear from a council member; why do you think it is ok to promise a group of kids something and then abrubtly change your mind? do you think these kids will trust their borough officials in the future after being lied to? what was the reasoning for shelfing the skate park for a playground that doesnt appear to be much different than the ones we currently have?
bs February 08, 2013 at 04:47 PM
i mean no offense by this question but can someone familiar with specail needs children answer, why cant a child with special needs use the parks we currently have? ive brought my kids to the park and have seen special needs kids at the same park having a good time on the slides and other equipment. why cant ALL our kids use the parks we currently have? what is different about a ADA park?
Fair Lawn Resident February 08, 2013 at 06:20 PM
Do you realize how many parks there are in Fair Lawn? The parks aren't so messed up that they need to be fixed up. The town should prioritize their time by doing skateboarders a favor and place the skatepark up first. It is less money to put the skatepark than fix up the Berdan park. Skateboarders have been patiently waiting and the town has promised to put it up this summer. Now, their plans are changed which got us mad in the first place.
Deleted because of harassment February 08, 2013 at 10:02 PM
I believe it is wrong to strip a community of a pool that was part of a community effort for either group of special interests. Walsh Pool does not have the flooding problems that Memorial has, and, by sharing it with other towns, it was making money for the town. The All-Sports is a special interest group that uses the taxpayer-financed fields to the point where they have to expand and blot out other sports; perhaps they need to limit their membership to meet the realistic limits of the size of open space in town. The ADA standards should be incorporated into all the local playgrounds, not just segregated into one, since the point of playgrounds is to be local to the children who use them. The skate park should be placed next to the community center where it will have the presence of people to supervise the issues it developed in the previous remote location and be closer to the age group of kids that would use it. Perhaps the Board of Ed could cede some land to the town for a change for recreation. Finally, every school in town has some open space or fields associated with it; let the All-Sports use some of those properties for children's sports rather than taking over land that benefits ALL ages of residents.
Jenne February 10, 2013 at 05:37 AM
John, this is exactly the attitude in Fair Lawn that makes me crazy. Making claims about Patterson residents stealing huge pieces of skate ramps without anyone noticing? Apparently in the minds of certain Fair Lawn residents (who presumably live south of Fair Lawn Ave) Patterson residents possess super theft powers!
Jenne February 10, 2013 at 05:42 AM
Berdan Grove actually has the best maintained playground of all the town (rather than school) playgrounds I've visited in town-- Memorial and Walsh are much more run-down, and Walsh is the only one that is accessible to younger kids, let alone the only one in that area-- the next playground is at Westmoreland school and definitely for bigger kids. Jack, I don't have a problem with the 'supporting citizens with disabilities' but the whole point of putting the skate park up at Walsh (and mysteriously, not in one of the spaces at Memorial) was that Fair Lawn was supposed to have to pay the state grant money back if they didn't put the up the equipment. So Fair Lawn will then lose money because they aren't putting up the equipment. There's a place in Fair Lawn for activities and plans that reflect the needs of individuals as well as groups like the ADA Committee and All Sports, no matter how group-oriented the town may be.
Jenne February 10, 2013 at 05:49 AM
Deleted I rather agree. When you compare the space available for sports at, say, Memorial school compared to the manicured fields at Dubrow, you would be suprised to learn that most of our town taxes go to the Board of Ed! There is apparently a group that doesn't want the skateboard park anywhere in town, and also 2 groups that do want something else to happen. I also find it a bit sad that the claim the skate park would ever be put up lasted long enough to justify S..l..o..w..l..y filling in the Walsh pool, then died. My advice to the skateboard park supporters is to found/find a group of adult residents to lobby the township as an organized club on your behalf. That seems to be the way to get heard
K. Sparks February 10, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Compromise - Part 1 The differences may not be evident to many, but to the members of the community who have a disability, mobility issues, use a walker or a wheelchair, are blind or have diminished vision capabilities, or are simply not able to maneuver like they used to due to age, the differences can make the difference between participating or exclusion. Believe me, if anyone sees both sides of this issue, it is I. I have been a skateboarder for thirty-five years and I love playing Frisbee, basketball, football, soccer and basketball as well. I am also a construction inspector, access specialist and advise jurisdictions on how to eliminate architectural barriers to comply with the ADA There are no grandfather clauses in this type of situation and, if the park is a public one, then the responsible jurisdiction is responsible for addressing any architectural or programmatic barriers that may exist. Title II of the ADA bans discrimination because of disability by state and local governments. “No qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation or denied the benefits of the services, programs or activities of a public entity," “A public entity must ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from services, programs, and activities because existing buildings are inaccessible. A State or local government's programs, when viewed in their entirety, must be readily accessible to and
K. Sparks February 10, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Compromise - Part 2 usable by individuals with disabilities. This standard, known as "program accessibility," applies to facilities of a public entity that existed on January 26, 1992. Public entities do not necessarily have to make each of their existing facilities accessible. They may provide program accessibility by a number of methods including alteration of existing facilities, acquisition or construction of additional facilities, relocation of a service or program to an accessible facility, or provision of services at alternate accessible sites.” www.ada.gov “Structural changes needed for program accessibility must be made as expeditiously as possible, but no later than January 26, 1995. This three-year time period is not a grace period; all alterations must be accomplished as expeditiously as possible. A public entity that employs 50 or more persons must have developed a transition plan by July 26, 1992, setting forth the steps necessary to complete such changes.” www. ada.gov New Jersey enacted its own accessibility guidelines in 1986, the Barrier Free Sub code (BFSC), so it may be that parks in New Jersey built after 1986 are compliant with the ADA, ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), as well as the American National Standards Institute accessibility document A117.1. You may be correct and there are no differences between a park that is accessible and the ones in your community, but odds are that there are major differences that
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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