Just minutes away from New York City, yet offering a peaceful suburban community feel, Secaucus, NJ is home to a growing population of families with young children. It’s also home to a mayor who is more than a little passionate about giving children opportunities to play in outdoor playgrounds.
“Nothing makes me happier than to see a child having fun,” says Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who is a lifelong resident of Secaucus and now takes his grandchildren to all of the town’s new playgrounds. “A beautiful playground adds so much to a community. People appreciate them and they add to the value of the town overall.”
About four years ago, Gonnelli placed playgrounds at the top of the town’s priority list for investments.
“A lot of our playgrounds needed to be updated,” he explains. “They may not have met the newer safety standards and some still had wood fiber mulch. I hated that stuff. It was a maintenance nightmare.”
Gonnelli also knew he wanted each playground to be themed. He sought help from Brian Gates at Marturano Recreation Company (MRC).
“Mayor Gonnelli is a huge advocate for creating nature spaces for his residents,” says Gates. “Secaucus is a densely populated area so it’s important for the community to have these areas of open space.”
Most recently, MRC and the town of Secaucus, NJ worked with PLAYTIME to create a zoo-themed outdoor playground for the town. The PLAYTIME products are manufactured using GFRPMAX (Glass Fiber Reinforced PolymerMAX) rather than Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC), which had been a standard in the industry.
“The GFRPMAX product is more kid friendly; it’s softer to the touch,” says Gates. “It’s also a little more playful for outdoor playgrounds.”
Gates adds that the PLAYTIME design team and manufacturing process are also more flexible than the GFRC products allow for outdoor playgrounds.
“With PLAYTIME’s GFRPMAX products, we have the ability to really customize a play area,” says Gates. “With GFRC, there are limitations with the way it’s manufactured. But GFRPMAX is cut out of a Styrofoam block and then molded with a polymer. Because of this, PLAYTIME is a lot more flexible with the products they can create.”
Gates adds, “PLAYTIME’s design capabilities are off the charts compared to their competition. PLAYTIME offers 3D designs that make the client feel like they know exactly what they are getting before they buy it. This is one of PLAYTIME’s main competitive advantages: their ability to convey a design to the customer.”
Matt Miller, MRC Marketing Communications Director, also says that PLAYTIME’s outdoor playgrounds products are lighter and, therefore, cheaper to ship. They are also easier to install.
Gates jokes, “I call PLAYTIME, ‘The Google of the playground world.’ They can create anything.”
Back in Secaucus, Mayor Gonnelli says that the zoo-themed outdoor playground is rapidly becoming the most popular play destination in town.
“Everybody is excited,” he says. “But nobody is more excited than the kids, and if a child is happy, you have happy parents. Of course, we’re a small town so we have a lot of priorities for our budget, but playgrounds are at the forefront.”
About MRC Recreation: MRC Recreation is an industry-leading supplier of commercial park and playground equipment, custom and standard site furnishings, outdoor fitness equipment and various other park products. Headquartered in Sea Girt, New Jersey, MRC Recreation has been dedicated to providing top quality products and service to their customers since 1978.
About GameTime Tuff Forms: GameTime is a leading manufacturer of commercial playgrounds, custom play spaces and outdoor fitness equipment. Headquartered in Fort Payne, Alabama, and with distribution around the world, GameTime has been dedicated to enriching childhood through play since our founding in 1929. Our products combine play research with thoughtful design to create playgrounds for children of all abilities. We bring together the right corporate, civic and nonprofit partners to build healthy, active communities that make the world a better place for children and families.