With equipment, parking in place, Jackson playground opens

Staff Writer

By clare m. masi

SARAH McCOLGAN After a long delay, the Jackson Jungle is open.SARAH McCOLGAN After a long delay, the Jackson Jungle is open.

The barricades are down, the yellow police tape has been removed, and the "No Admittance" signs have been taken away. The ground has been smoothed out and graded, and the asphalt has been laid in place.

Jackson’s children can now be seen running, jumping and playing on the 1,800-square-foot wooden structure called the Jackson Jungle, which, of course, is the way it was always intended to be.

Project Playground began in 1998 as a concept, an idea, no, a dream in the minds and hearts of residents of the community. The idea took shape and form in January 1999 when township officials donated 2 acres on Veterans Highway in front of the Justice Complex.

Chris Fallon, the coordinator of the playground project, was quoted as saying the construction of the playground by volunteers resembled an old-fashioned "barn raising" with lots of lumber, lot of sweat, and lots of community minded spirit.

The 12 separate committees and 1,700 volunteers working together brought about what was once only a vision in a matter of six days in September as they "ran down their dream."

The playground project has not been without its share of difficulties though — difficulties such as rain, snow, and a parking lot full of mud and ruts due to what could be called a bit of uncooperative spirit on the part of Mother Nature.

But all that is in the past.

The finishing touches on the playground have now been completed, including the paving of the property to allow for safe parking. The parking lot remained as the last obstacle standing in the way of the children having their own place to call home. And the rest is history.

The wooden rocket ships, slides and giant wooden giraffes that grace the park are no longer off limits and now welcome the tiny ones to their door.

Township Committeeman Michael Kafton, fund-raising chairman for the playground who has since been named the governing body’s liaison to the recreation commission, said he is "very excited to finally see the playground up and running."

The parking lot was completed, and the playground has been open for about two weeks, he said.

"We’re so happy to finally see the kids enjoying what everyone has worked for. It’s a beautiful playground. In fact," Kafton said, "the kids aren’t the only ones enjoying it. I saw some parents climbing up on the structure too."

Kafton said a formal dedication for the playground has been planned for Sept. 16.