Township Tries Again For Natural Play Area Grant

Middlebush Park play area1

The section of Middlebush Park that is envisioned for the natural play area.

Township officials are hoping the second time is the charm with a $150,000 grant for improvements to Middlebush Park.

The Township Council at its last meeting in 2014 approved the submission of a grant application to the American Water Charitable Foundation to build a natural play area in about 28,000 square feet of the park, located near a parking lot.

The American Water Charitable Foundation is an arm  of the American Water Works Company.

The council first applied for the grant in May, 2014, but did not make it past the finalist stage, said Fran Varacalli, the township’s land preservation and management consultant.

“The township was invited to reapply for the second round of funding,” Varacalli said. She said she and Tiffany Delaney, the township’s special project’s manager, reworked the application.

“We are very excited about this project and have received broad support from the township and NJ Water Supply Authority,” Varacalli said.

The play area will be designed to “promote sustainable natural resource management principles to the public,” according to the grant application.

“This project concept proposes amenities such as a wetland complex with multiple habitat zones for a wide range of species, gathering space for public use (benches and picnic shelter), and elements that will enable kids to explore, to run, jump and traverse in unique ways, such as via a hill slide, tunnels and bridges, rocks to jump on/over, balance logs and dry stream beds,” according to the application.

The site would also include signs to inform visitors about the natural habitat.

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