(Cherry Hill, NJ) – More than 10 years ago, the Commissioners worked with the community and the Cummings family to build an all-inclusive playground, Jake’s Place, in the John Adler Memorial Park at Challenge Grove. That park grew into one of the busiest playgrounds in Camden County’s extensive parks system. Since the volume and use has grown over the years and the park has become a destination for the public, the board is investing in this valued resource for children and families throughout the county.
Beginning Monday, Oct. 2, the Jake’s Place Playground at John Adler Memorial Park at Challenge Grove will be closed for three weeks to undergo renovations and improvements. The project is slated to last until Oct. 23 and will cost $584,000. These new enhancements will allow for more playing time on the playground, especially after large rain events, more shade for families during the hottest months of the summer and more amenities for kids and adults.
“Jake’s Place and our Boundless Field are treasured community assets that we prioritize taking care of,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Nash, liaison to the Parks Department. “So many families rely on this park to ensure that their children can play and have fun with their peers and that is truly a place for everyone to enjoy our park system. We are excited to get the ball rolling on these improvements and will work diligently so that the park can reopen as soon as possible.”
Work will include:
- Repairing and replacing the safety surfacing to include underdrainage and all new poured-in-place rubber surfacing (old surfacing issues because of lack of underdrain system)
- Removing of mulched tree wells within playground area with porous surfacing to reduce debris on the play surface
- Installing an Inclusive Communication Board
Executive Director of Build Jake’s Place, Arthur Aston, talked about the renovations and the impact they will have on the community.
“All of us at Build Jake’s Place extend our thanks to Commissioners and are excited for the upgrades that are taking place at Jake’s Place, Cherry Hill in the coming weeks,” Aston said. “These upgrades will ensure that Jake’s Place can continue to be a safe gathering place for all to enjoy an accessible and inclusive play experience as it has been for the last 12 years. “
In addition to the improvements at Jake’s Place, the project will also include the construction of an ADA compliant bocce ball court and two shade structures at Boundless Field. These additions will not impact the playground closure.
The Board and the Cummings Family worked tirelessly to create and install Jake’s Place and the surrounding all-inclusive amenities in the park including the Boundless Field, Basketball Court and gym equipment that can be utilized by anyone.
“Jake’s Place has become so important to so many families here in Camden County and it is imperative that we ensure it is in the best possible condition for our children,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Edward McDonnell, liaison to the office of disABILITIES and Special Needs. “These renovations will improve the experience for the kids who come to play at Jake’s Place, and we are eager to welcome all of our families back to the playground later this month.”
More about Build Jake’s Place:
Build Jake’s Place builds playgrounds for everybody. Playgrounds where children in wheelchairs and other assistive devices can play alongside others with ease. Even parents and grandparents with a disability can play and interact with the children.
Jacob Myles Cummings-Nasto (“Baby Jake”) was beloved by many and left this world because of a rare cardiac medical condition. Although Jake was unaware that his illness kept him from accessing many components of a typical playground, his family was not. Jake’s family chose to honor his memory by creating a specially designed all-inclusive playground based on their belief that every child deserves a chance to play, regardless of physical limitations.