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Princeton officials scrap plans for proposed synthetic turf field at Hilltop Park

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The Princeton Council approved an amendment to its $500,000 Mercer at Play grant application for Hilltop Park, which reflect some tweaks to the grant application that include new playground equipment and a new batting cage next to the ballfield.

The original matching grant application called for installing a synthetic turf field at Hilltop Park, off Bunn Drive, but the plan was dropped because of significant opposition. The Princeton Recreation Department went back to the drawing board.

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Princeton Recreation Department Executive Director Evan Moorhead presented the revised $500,000 matching grant application to the Princeton Council at its November meeting, which was approved by the Council.

An all-new inclusive playground and a poured-in-place rubber surface are proposed to replace the aging playground equipment and wood mulch surface at Hilltop Park. An inclusive playground provides a safe place where people of different ages and abilities can play together, officials said.

The playground equipment – swings, a balance beam, parallel bars, a tower climber, therapeutic rings, a sensory wave climber and a communication board – is designed to be developmentally appropriate and challenging for children of all ages and abilities, officials said.

The asphalt path from the parking lot to the playground will be renovated and made ADA (American with Disabilities Act) – compliant, and a four-foot-tall fence will be installed around the playground, officials said. It will be similar to fence installed at the Mary Moss Playground on the corner of John Street and Lytle Street.

A batting cage will be installed next to the ballfield, officials said. There are batting cages at Barbara Smoyer Memorial Park on Snowden Lane; Farmview Fields on The Great Road; and Grover Park, next to the Princeton Shopping Center. There are no batting cages at Hilltop Park.

Additional improvements to Hilltop Park include upgraded lighting to the ballfield and repairs to the basketball court and a new backboard. They are part of the overall Hilltop Park improvement plan, but not specifically part of the Mercer at Play grant application, according to a Nov. 7 memorandum to the Princeton Council from Evan Moorhead, the Princeton Recreation Department’s executive director.

The basketball court repairs and the lighting upgrades – replacement of the 30-year-old lighting fixtures with LED lighting that more precisely distributes the lighting and create less glare – will come to the Princeton Council at a future meeting, Moorhead wrote.

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