Union County has recently broken ground on its first inclusive LGBTQ+ affirming park space at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield.

The idea is to make all residents feel included and accepted, Union County Board of Commissioners Chairman Alexander Mirabella said.

"The new park space has been intentionally conceived and thoughtfully designed to be an environment for LGBTQ+ people and others who support equity and inclusion and strive to normalize acceptance," Mirabella said.

Union County was the first county in New Jersey to set up an office dedicated to LGBTQ affairs. He said it was the first in the state and only one of four in the entire country to do so. Its emphasis is for inclusion, acceptance, and equality for all.

Breaking ground on Union County's first inclusive LGBTQ+ affirming park space at Cedar Brook , Plainfield. Photo Credit: David Pilmenstein/County of Union

Mirabella said there will be an inclusive playground with intergenerational attractions, traditional playground equipment and auditory and musical expression, the first meditation maze in Union County, one of at least two planned spaces designed for reflection and meditation.

There will be a wildflower garden, passive walking trails, a resource kiosk with information on programs and services available.

One of the greatest features of the park will be a bandshell to celebrate diversity with plays and concerts.

"Cedar Brook Park is fantastic and we just carved out a section to dedicate and letting people know it's a safe place to gather, it's an inclusive place and that's reflective of our entire county," Mirabella said.

The new park will build on the county's ongoing series of yoga classes for all ages, women's well-being workshops and other county programs aimed at providing a welcoming, restorative community environment for both residents and visitors.

Ground breaking of inclusive LGBTQ+ park space at Cedar Brook Park, Plainfield
Photo Credit: David Pilmenstein/County of Union

Mirabella added he's fortunate to live in a diverse county where inclusiveness is celebrated. People are excited for the park to open. In fact, he said he's thrilled to announce that other counties have reached out to Union County asking for help in setting up their own office of LGBTQ affairs.

Within Union County itself, he said towns like Scotch Plains, Rahway, Plainfield and Springfield have been celebrating Pride Month with their own events and flag ceremonies.

He said he's happy to offer tips to anyone who wants help making their town more inclusive and more accepting. Mirabella said the goal is to have the whole state and the whole country more diverse and a place where people can be safe and feel proud.

If all goes well and the weather cooperates, Mirabella's timeline for opening the park is October.

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