Millville residents chomping at the bit for playground

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Playground, walking trail and... timed obstacle course? Millville has grand plans for its future playground at Dukes Drive.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Playground, walking trail and... timed obstacle course? Millville has grand plans for its future playground at Dukes Drive.Citizens are so excited about the prospect of a new Millville playground that they protested even the thought that town council might delay discussion of the project by two weeks.

But the Millville Town Council was pleased with the park concepts discussed on Oct. 11, voting unanimously to approve the layout, general concept and the purchase of about $115,000 in playground equipment (which includes a $103,000 grant the Town will receive from the manufacturer).

“We’re starting with a blank slate. It’s a piece of grass on Dukes Road,” said GameTime representative Brian Lewis.

Big plans and millions of dollars could go into those 4.9 acres.

The current concept is a nautical-themed playground. That includes two large structures, for older and younger children (costing $115,000); more children’s climbing structures; a swing set; a large field that leads to a pavilion stage; a walking path with exercise stations; pickleball courts; picnic tables; and more.

A new attraction will be the challenge course, which Lewis compared to the obstacle course on the “American Ninja Warrior” television show. People can do the obstacle course, with built-in timers. By downloading a mobile phone application, they can even upload their best times onto a worldwide server. The same goes for a 50-yard dash course nearby.

For safety, surveillance cameras would likely be installed, and the parking lot would be visible from the playground. The clamshell-surface parking lot would have about 48 parking spaces, as well as bus pull-offs.

The playground and walking path are designed to be ADA-friendly. Lewis suggested the equipment is long-lasting and requires less maintenance than some other options.

“I think this is something that will be fantastic for the town,” he said.

Phase I of the project would be completed in summer of 2017. Phase I includes play equipment, site preparation, a parking lot, utility preparation, the challenge course and 50-yard dash, for $1.49 million. Phase II includes a maintenance building, 4,000-square-foot community building with kitchen and restrooms, part of the trail, another parking lot and utility connections, for $670,000. Phase III includes the loop trail, fitness stations, pickleball courts and rear pavilion, for $251,000.

That’s an estimated total of $2.32 million, and the work will be put to bid. Liability insurance costs won’t be available until the final cost is determined, said Town Manager Debbie Botchie.

“It sounds like a lot of money, but it’s literally 5 acres that are being developed into a commercial playground facility,” Lewis said. “I think, with the proper maintenance, we will get a great investment on the money.”

He cited the benefits of health and recreation, as well as funds coming into the area from people willing to travel to the unique playground.

Residents chimed in with suggestions for more shaded areas, pathway maintenance and ground material under the swings.

In other Millville news:

• The town council opted for a conservative investment plan, as they unanimously approved investment of $1million of town funds in four certificates-of-deposit (CDs).

They chose three standard, shorter-term CDs in separate banks, with a fourth market-linked CD. Each will hold the maximum FDIC-insured investment of $250,000, and interest will be sent to a separate account. They chose Allied Bank, MB Financial Bank and Bank of New England.

Interest rates could go down soon, but they’re expected to go back up later, said Steven Z. Dunn, MBA, of WSFS Wealth Investments. In a town with much development, but few major expenses, the large investment is only a portion of the unrestricted reserve fund. The Town also has other CDs coming due in 2017.

• At Bishop’s Landing, Insight Homes will now be building 16 of the single-family homes (plus one model), instead of Beazer. The town council voted 4-0-1 (with Councilman Steve Small, who resides in the neighborhood, abstaining) to approve an amended record plat for Phase 4B that essentially shifted the lot lines by 1 or 2 feet, to accommodate the new Insight designs. There is no change in density, and home sizes will be roughly the same, said Steve Marsh, engineer with George, Miles & Buhr.

The next meeting will be the town council workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m.