Existing playground at Hilltop Park to be demolished

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ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF
Hilltop Park in Princeton contains soccer, basketball, baseball and a skate park on March 17.

New inclusive playground equipment to arrive in next several weeks

In advance of the installation of the new inclusive playground equipment at Hilltop Park, the existing playground has to be demolished and disposed.

To do that, the Princeton Council awarded a contract for $28,100 to MRC Inc. at its June 26 meeting. It is the same company that will be installing the new playground equipment, which is expected to begin arriving in the next several weeks, according to a June 17 memorandum from Evan Moorhead, executive director of Recreation.

“This work must be done immediately prior to the installation of the new inclusive playground equipment at Hilltop Park,” Moorhead wrote in the memorandum.

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

The aging playground equipment will be replaced with new “inclusive” playground equipment, Moorhead said. An inclusive playground is designed to appeal to – and be used by – children with different abilities, ages and interests.

An inclusive playground provides opportunities for development in five key areas – cognitive, social-emotional, physical, sensory and communication, he said. A sign board would show 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 for children who prefer to have a solo experience, and where a child can find a place to play that provides sensory relief.

The wood mulch surface under the playground will be replaced with poured-in-place rubber surfacing, Moorhead said. It is similar to what is in use at the Mary Moss Playground on the corner of John and Lytle streets. It will create a level surface.

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

In addition to new playground equipment, the improvements include replacing the lights at the baseball/softball field with LED (light-emitting diode) sports field lighting, Moorhead 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.

A batting cage will be installed next to the baseball field, Moorhead said. It will be similar to the batting cages at the Farmview, Smoyer and Grover parks. Hilltop Park currently does not have a batting cage.

Earlier this year, the Princeton Council awarded contracts totaling $664,023 for the improvements. The town received a matching grant to pay for the project through the “Mercer at Play” grant program.

MRC Inc. was awarded a contract for $446,851 for the playground equipment and RubberRecycle was awarded a contract for $188,272 for the poured-in-place surface underneath the playground.

Sunset Creations Inc. was given a contract for $28,900 to install the batting cage and a two-foot-tall retaining wall between the batting cage and the walkway.