Princeton’s Hilltop Park improvements include inclusive playground equipment


Share post:

A proposed makeover of Hilltop Park includes new “inclusive” playground equipment, new ballfield lighting and the park’s first-ever batting cage.

Princeton Recreation Department officials walked the Planning Board through the proposed improvements during a courtesy review of the project at a meeting on Nov. 3. No action was required because it is a municipal funded project.

- Advertisement -

The 11-acre Hilltop Park is on Bunn Drive, across from the Princeton Community Village affordable housing development. The park has a playground, a baseball/softball diamond, a multipurpose athletic field, a skate park and a picnic area.

Princeton has the money in hand for park improvements, officials said. The town received a $500,000 matching grant through Mercer County’s “Mercer at Play” program. The money was intended to be used to pay for improvements and for the installation of a synthetic turf athletic field at Hilltop Park, but the plan was scrapped.

Recreation Director Evan Moorhead told the Planning Board that the aging playground equipment would be replaced with new “inclusive” playground equipment. An inclusive playground is designed to appeal – and to be used by – children of different abilities, ages and interests, he said.

An inclusive playground provides opportunities for development in five key areas – cognitive, social-emotional, physical, sensory and communication, he said. There may be a sign board that shows the equipment so children who are non-verbal can point to what they want to play on.

There will be something at the playground for each child, regardless of what their ability may be, Moorhead said. There will be equipment on the perimeter of the playground for children who prefer to have a solo experience, and where a child can find a place to play that provides “sensory relief,” he said.

A four-foot-tall fence has been proposed to surround the playground, Moorhead said. It would be similar to the one surrounding the Mary Moss Playground on the corner of John and Lytle streets, he said.

An inclusive playground presents an opportunity for Princeton to be at the forefront of the growing trend in playground design, Moorhead said. Lawrence Township, for example, installed an inclusive playground in one of its parks several years ago.

The wood mulch surface under the playground equipment would be replaced with poured-in-place rubber surfacing, similar to what is in use at the Mary Moss Playground, Moorhead said. It would create a level surface.

The existing asphalt path that leads from the parking lot to the playground would be renovated with an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant surface, Moorhead said.

Also, the lights at the baseball/softball field would be replaced with LED sports field lighting, he said. The ballfield lights are 30 years old and near the end of their lifespan, he said.

The new LED lights will be brighter and directed toward the playing field. There will be less light spillage outside of the playing area and less glare, which would benefit the neighbors, he said. The six existing light poles would be re-used.

“It will be much, much improved over what we have now,” Moorhead said.

A batting cage would be installed next to the baseball field, he said. It would be similar to the ones at the Farmview, Smoyer and Grover parks. The netting would be removed each winter.

The basketball court surface would be repaired and the hoop backboards would be replaced, Moorhead said.

Planning Board members praised the project – especially the inclusive playground.

“This is a thoughtful set of improvements. It is a really cool project,” Planning Board Chairman Louise Wilson said.

Stay Connected


Current Issue

Latest News

Related articles

She said ‘no’ to the bullies

State legislation that would ban potential book-banners from doing so - dubbed "The Freedom to Read Act" -...

‘I am excited to get started’

The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education has appointed Johnson Park School Principal Angela Siso Stentz to become...

‘We have an obligation to innovate responsibly’

The first New Jersey Artificial Intelligence (AI) Summit not only convened business leaders, academics and government officials to...

Princeton Public Library to celebrate 20th anniversary of current building

A one-day photo exhibit and a panel discussion about the Princeton Public Library building - plus the obligatory...