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walnut lot for playground
This currently vacant space will soon host a brand new playground thanks in large part to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. With the new turf field behind it, Walnut Street students and the local community will have ample space and opportunities to play.

May 24, 2023-- Toms River Regional Schools has been awarded a $71,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs in support of a new playground installation at Walnut Street Elementary School.

The funding is from the Local Recreation Improvement Grant (LRIG), a competitive program that supports improvement and repair of public recreation facilities including local parks, playgrounds, municipal recreation centers, and local stadiums.

The playground at Walnut Street had become unusable due to irreparable damage it had sustained, and in fact had to be dismantled and removed from school grounds earlier this year (left), leaving the densely-populated and close-knit community–apartment buildings sit across the street from the school–without a public place to play.

Further highlighting the need is the fact that the school’s free and/or reduced meals eligibility rate is among the highest in the district, so replacing the playground became a priority for a school community which faces socio-economic challenges.

The district’s facilities team will work alongside MRC Recreation and GameTime to install the new playground during summer. Both contractors have considerable experience implementing playground projects throughout the district as part of the 2019 referendum.

“This is terrific news for our Walnut Street students, who need and deserve a place to play,” said Superintendent Mike Citta, who earlier this year worked with Toms River Township to financially back new turf athletic fields at three schools, including Walnut Street.

“I would like to extend my best wishes for this most worthwhile project and its successful completion,” wrote New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver in her letter to the district announcing the award.