Building for all abilities

Bayonne constructing first special needs park

In less than two months, the youngest children of the city’s special-needs community will have their own playground, thanks to the efforts of a local advocate and the support of the municipal and county governments.
On Sept. 14, ground was broken for the 26-by-116-foot special-needs playground on the lower level of DiDomenico-16th Street Park, in its southwest corner, near the tennis courts.
The $237,000 playground is being financed completely by the Hudson County Open Space Fund. It is being built by Picerno-Giordano Construction, LLC of Kenilworth. CME of Parlin is the engineer for the project.
Elisha DeMaria, mother of 6-year-old Gabriel, an autistic and nonverbal child, is ecstatic that her son will have a park specially designed for his needs and those of other special-needs children in the city.
DeMaria led the charge for the new playground, visiting Mayor James Davis shortly after he took office to make the case for it. City officials had already been considering adding such a facility, they said.
“The mayor is big on recreation and facilities,” said Recreation Director Pete Amadeo. “He was all for getting a special-needs playground done.”
“I’m so excited; it’s something that the kids will have the ability to have fun in,” DeMaria said. “Then their disability doesn’t show. I think it’s going to be awesome.”
“It’s definitely a welcome addition,” said First Ward Councilman Tom Cotter. “It’s long overdue. We need a place for all children to play.”
Rich Picerno, owner of Picerno-Giordano along with wife, Toni, said that the new playground will be 100-percent Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant. It will feature three octagon decks, with ADA ramps leading to each platform. There will also be an ADA-compliant ramp from the parking lot to the structure.
The playground will feature special swings which encase and protect the children.

Soft landing

Other features include rubberized surfaces, benches for parents to sit on while their children play, and extensive landscaping.
There will also be “Beat Club” musical activities featuring plastic drums, which DeMaria said she is happy to hear about.
“And they’ll have a four-foot decorative fence all the way around it,” Picerno said.
The playground is primarily for two to five year olds, Public Works Director Gary Chmielewski said, but older children will also use it.
DeMaria said the new playground is important because there are at least 2,000 special-needs children in Bayonne, and probably more. She said that in the last year the city has made a concerted effort to reach this population through recreational activities, adding programs in baseball last year and soccer next month.
“It’s another great thing for Bayonne’s special-needs community,” DeMaria said.
She specifically thanked Amadeo, Davis, and County Executive Tom DeGise for their support of the initiative.


“I’m so excited; it’s something that the kids will have the ability to have fun in.” – Elisha DeMaria

Coming to 16th soon

City officials and residents attending the groundbreaking included Davis, Chmielewski, Amadeo, DeMaria and husband Michael, City Planner Sue Mack, Cotter, and Councilman Juan Perez. Representing the county was Hudson County Planning Division Chief Massiel Medina Ferrara.
The playground is expected to take about eight weeks to complete. At that point, the city will host a celebration for the children who will be using it.
“When it’s done, we’ll have a barbecue with special-needs families,” Amadeo said. “We’ll have opening-day ceremonies. We’ll have all the children there and we’ll have a great day.”
The playground will be open during regular park hours.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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