It’s officially been two years since the Village of Hazlet began fundraising for some changes to their regional park’s playground.
From silent auctions to bingo nights to car rallies, local business and community members have come together time and time again to make the new build happen.
Britny Andrews, a long-time volunteer member of the Hazlet Regional Park Board, said it’s a lot of work and expenses, but completely worth it.
“The Park Board decided that the playground at our campground needed an upgrade,” she said. “A subcommittee was formed with some interested parents, and fundraising began. The goal is to create a fun and inclusive space for people of all ages and stages of development to spend time together, to play and learn and grow and just be outdoors."
The crew broke down the big project into three phases to make it more attainable for themselves and the community; while having applied for multiple grants, they have yet to be accepted for any.
Fundraising since May 2021 has been for the first piece of the playground: the structure itself. Ringing in at $75,000, the committee has managed to successfully raise those funds, and installation is set for next week.
Phase two is expected to cost around $30,000 for ground-level items, including a playhouse with activity and sensory boards, as well as spinning devices.
Ideally, the cost for additional play-items would be funded over this summer and installed later in the fall.
The final step to bring everything together is a pour in place rubber surfacing for maximum accessibility, costing around $65,000.
“We want to continue to thrive as a community, but we also want to grow,” Andrews said. "And in order to do that, we need to attract visitors to our community, and hopefully new people to actually move [there]. We think our Regional Park is an under-utilized asset that has so much potential; we really want to capitalize on that, and we think doing some upgrades to the park in terms of this playground (and down the road looking at getting running water and bathrooms), will really improve the space and draw people to our community.
“We also want to improve the quality of life for the people that already live here, and having a space that is inclusive and allows people of all ages to come and play and learn and be active outdoors together is really important for the people who already live and work in and around Hazlet.”
Folks looking for more information on the project, how to donate or sponsor, are invited to check out the Hazlet Regional Park's website here.