Lavallette’s youngsters will have a fresh, new place to make memories come next week, when volunteers with a nonprofit foundation will donate both the equipment and their own labor to construct a new playground in town.
The playground will be built in honor of, and named for, Brendan Tevlin, the 19-year-old college student who was murdered after being carjacked by Muhammad Brown, a Seattle man who came to New Jersey after investigators say he took up radical Islamic beliefs. Tevlin’s grandfather still lives in Lavallette. Construction will begin Sept. 25.
“The plan is to build in earnest and about 10 a.m., we’ll have a groundbreaking ceremony,” said Bill Lavin of Where Angels Play, the nonprofit group behind the project. “The build takes sometimes a day, sometimes two. It’s like a barn raising.”
The playground will replace an aging playground set at Jacobsen Park, in the northern portion of the borough, near the bayfront. But the old playground forms another important part of the mission.
“We partner with a group called Kids Around the World,” said Lavin, explaining that the old equipment will be shipped to a poor country and reconstructed there for children to enjoy. “This group repaints it and ships it around the world. It may wind up in Haiti or Africa.”
“The nice piece of this is that Brendan Tevlin’s family would be gifting this through the Borough of Lavallette,” he added.
The groundbreaking event on Wednesday will be followed by a gathering for volunteers and the community at the Ocean Beach fire house. The following weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife are expected to make an appearance at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Shorebeat will provide details on the ribbon-cutting once the governor’s office confirms a time.)
The Lavallette project will be the second time Where Angels Play has donated a playground to the island. The group previously built Chase’s Place, a playground in Normandy Beach, named for Chase Kowalski, one of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.
Brown, Tevlin’s killer, was convicted of murder earlier this year and is serving a life sentence in New Jersey State Prison. Tevlin was a resident of Livingston and Lavallette.