New playground opens at Middletown park

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — Middletown’s Butternut Hollow Park has gotten a big upgrade.

The park now has a new playground, which is no ordinary play area. It has a sensory station designed for children with autism. There’s an app for the playground too, a game that kids can play right on a smartphone.

Daquanna Martinez wanted to spend her birthday with her daughter and stepdaughter, so they went to Butternut Hollow Park on Friday. They checked out the new “mommy and me” swings. These are designed for parents with very young children. Martinez brought her 5-month-old daughter on the swing.

“My daughter can go on it and I don’t have to hold her,” she said. “I don’t have to be scared because I’m right here with her, so just in case I can grab her.”

The swings are part of the new playscape with two play areas – one for very young children and one for bigger kids.

“I love watching him have fun,” said Amanda Hearn of Middletown, who brought her son to the playground on Friday. “He’s very active. He’s a boy.”

This is part of a big parks upgrade package in Middletown, with more than $30 million going into parks all over the city. About $400,000 went into Butternut Hollow Park, going towards everything from swings to security cameras. It’s something the city says residents wanted.

“It’s pretty good. Overall we like it,” said William Russo, Middletown’s public works director. “We’re getting good feedback. It’s overwhelming the amount of people in the community that are using the place.”

“There’s been tremendous interest in it. People have used it nonstop since it opened,” said Mayor Dan Drew. “My wife brought our kids down here the first day that it opened.”

Some families have already been to the park more than once since it opened last Friday, and they plan on spending more summer days here.

“This is our second time here and I’ve got to say it’s amazing,” said Ben Graham of Meriden. “Kids love it, they always ask to come and it’s a good time.”

Work at the park is not done yet. The next step is to add a walking trail.

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