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Ellie Katz once said, "The world is your playground. Why aren't you playing?" We have many parks and ample recreational facilities, but some of our children aren't playing simply because they can't. I am proposing the creation of a recreational facility that will allow our children who suffer from severe physical or mental disabilities to have the same access to team sports such as baseball, football, and soccer as their physically able siblings and friends.

In Roosevelt Park, we have a barrier-free playground. I am proposing that capital funds be provided this year to design and build barrier-free athletic fields, including benches and restrooms, for team sports, in the same area, so that physically challenged children can have the opportunity, with assistance, to play baseball, football, and soccer rather than just watch others play. This is an opportunity that we, as a community, should offer. Our parks and recreational facilities are second to none, but should be assets to all of our families. They should be usable by all of our children. Every child in our great county should be able to experience the fun and excitement of competing in team sports, and every parent should be able to enjoy the thrill and enjoyment of watching them as they do it.

Middlesex County municipalities already host leagues, which are designed to provide team-support activities for the physically challenged such as Buddy Ball in Woodbridge and Edison. As far as I am aware, these are the only such leagues available for children who are physically challenged in New Jersey. It is my goal to provide the facility which will allow leagues of this sort to grow so that any physically or mentally challenged child will have the opportunity to participate in team athletics. As the county already owns a suitable site, the only capital cost will be the construction of the actual fields. Our estimates would indicate that the total investment would be between $500,000-750,000.

This is an investment in our children and, therefore, an investment in our future. This project will be one of my primary goals for the year 2001 and it is my hope that my Freeholder colleagues will support my proposal to include funds in this year's Capital Budget for the design and construction of this athletic facility, which I believe should be named "The Level Playing Field".