The Burlington County Commissioners joined with State Senator Troy Singleton and members of the Burlington County Special Services School District community to break ground on a new state-of-the-art inclusive playground dedicated to a late school district leader.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the future Robert Silcox Memorial Playground was held on March 27 at the Burlington County Special Services School District Westampton Campus, where the new 12,500-square-foot playground will be constructed. It will replace a playground that was built decades ago on the site.
Silcox was a longtime member of the combined Burlington County Special Services School District and Burlington County Institute of Technology Board of Education. He was also a member of the Virtua Health Board of Trustees.
“All children deserve a safe place to play, and inclusive playgrounds provide recreational space that they and their families can enjoy without limitations,” said Senator Singleton. “This playground will be an asset for the Special Services School District and its students, and it will also serve as an outdoor destination for families across Burlington to visit and enjoy. We commend Special Services School District and the county for undertaking this project and we applaud the decision to dedicate this space in memory of Robert Silcox, a leader who believed deeply in providing opportunities for all residents and children.”
The new playground will feature a new safe play surface and all new equipment designed to be completely accessible and barrier-free, including an adaptive swing, sensory friendly wall, chimes, a playhouse and more. It will be for Special Services students but will also be open for the public to use when school is not in session.
The upgrade is expected to cost $1.1 million and is being funded through a special cost-share agreement approved by the Burlington County Commissioners.
“Our Commissioners Board is deeply committed to the idea that Burlington County should be a premier destination, not just for some, but for all of us,” said Burlington County Commissioner Deputy Director Tom Pullion during the groundbreaking. “That’s why the Burlington County Special Services School District and projects like this one are so important. The district was founded on the idea that every Burlington County child and every adult should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. Robert Silcox believed deeply in that mission, as do all of us on the Commissioners Board, and this future playground is the embodiment of that commitment.”
“It will be a safe place for students here to interact and play. A place to exercise their bodies, mind and imagination. A place to be a kid,” Pullion added.
Construction and site prep work for the new playground is scheduled to commence next month and end in June.
In addition to Singleton and Pullion, Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson and Commissioner Dan O’Connell participated in the groundbreaking, along with Burlington County Special Services School District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Nagy and BCSS/BCIT Board of Education President Tyler Burrell.
Westampton Mayor Sandy Henley and Burlington County Administrator Eve Cullinan also attended and participated in the groundbreaking, along with Silcox’s wife, Marsha, and additional members of the school district’s board and school community.
In addition to the new Special Services School Playground, Burlington County has also started planning a major upgrade at the County’s Long Bridge Park in Hainesport. The two existing playgrounds in the park will be replaced with new all-inclusive and accessible equipment and surfaces.
Last month the commissioners approved making an application to the New Jersey Green Acres program to provide funding for the $1.6 million project.
“Burlington County has some of the best parks in the region and we’re committed to making sure everyone can access and enjoy them,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “Creating all-inclusive playgrounds is another way we can make Burlington County an even better and more welcoming place for everyone.”