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Slides, swings and a fun house are part of the public playground at JFK Boulevard and Central Avenue. The city wants to add some type of shade cover to protect children from the sun.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

Just before last summer, Sea Isle City was discussing plans to erect a sprawling “shade sail” at one of its most popular playgrounds to protect children from the blazing sun.

The fabric cover would have measured 45 feet by 54 feet and stood 15 feet high to give kids and their parents plenty of cover at the playground at John F. Kennedy Boulevard and Central Avenue.

But months later, the city has decided that the proposed $95,000 shade sail would have been too elaborate and is now considering other ways to keep children nice and cool while they are playing outdoors.

“We got a proposal for something much more elaborate than we thought was needed or necessary to do at JFK. We didn’t go in that direction,” City Business Administrator George Savastano said.

The city’s engineer, Andy Previti, is studying other options now. Savastano indicated that the city hopes some type of shade cover will be ready by next summer, but he didn’t say what it might look like or how much it could cost.

“We’re going to get something from Andy that we think we can accomplish, hopefully before the summer,” Savastano said in remarks to City Council on Nov. 23 during a workshop on the city’s new five-year capital plan.

Children zip down the slides at the playground.

The playground at JFK Boulevard and Central Avenue is a veritable children’s dream world of swings, slides and a fun house. With the arrival of the summer vacation season, the playground becomes a big attraction for families.

The fun house and some gazebo-style coverings for some of the playground equipment already provide some shade from the sun, but the city wants to do even more to protect the children.

“It was decided that they will look at other options to add shade to the playground. It’s still a project we want to see come to fruition,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.

In 2020, the city added a new spongy, rubber surface at the playground to give children a safe and soft cushion if they fall off the playground equipment. Some type of shade cover would be another safety improvement.

“It’s still a project we want to address,” Custer said.

Despite being a small town, Sea Isle is known for its array of public recreation sites, including the playgrounds scattered around town, the Dealy Field athletic complex, the Townsends Inlet Waterfront Park and a nearly $1 million fishing pier and kayak launch facility that opened on the bayfront at 60th Street on May 1.

The beachfront municipal park on 85th Street is another place where the city will consider adding shade.

Custer said in an interview earlier this year that Sea Isle will consider shade covers for other children’s play areas, including the Dealy Field recreation complex and the city’s beachfront playground at 85th Street.

During the Nov. 23 workshop on the capital plan, Councilman J.B. Feeley asked Savastano whether it would be possible to add some type of sun protection at the 85th Street playground to prevent the play equipment from getting red hot.

“I’ve heard people say that they can’t touch the equipment because it’s so hot,” Feeley said.

Savastano responded by saying the city could “do something” at the 85th Street playground to provide shade cover.

In 2018, the 85th Street playground, located on the beachfront in the Townsends Inlet section, received new playground equipment, an upgraded pavilion, new picnic tables and new park benches.