Local News

Live Well Streator cuts ribbon on new playground at Central Park

‘So proud of what’s been accomplished here,’ organizer says

The first fall-like, cold-weather day of the year didn’t damper children’s excitement Saturday morning as Live Well Streator and the family of Brian Devera cut the ribbon on a new playground at Central Park in Streator.

Children gathered around before and after Ellen Vogel — the Live Well Streator facilitator and OSF HealthCare Community Health Engagement program manager — spoke in front of the new playground. It’s a smaller structure to the west of a new bicycle track built specifically for younger children.

“We all have those places from our childhood that remind us of happy times and Central Park is one of those places for me,” Vogel said. “This is where I used to play as a child. It’s the power of those moments that become an inspiration for someone and our hope is that this becomes one of those inspirational places for everyone that visits.”

Vogel said the concept came about when Streator was selected as a pilot city for the Move Your Way Campaign, a federal program originally started with the intent of creating events to promote healthy living. When COVID-19 shut down the country and paused events, Vogel and Live Well Streator had to get creative.

This led to Afton Calkins, a member of the Streator Park Board, pitching the idea for an imaginative play area that included the bicycle race track. That eventually led to a new playground after Public Works Director Larry Hake told Vogel about the city’s plan to build a toddler park.

The money for the park came from the Move Your Way Campaign, a project from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as an alternative to holding events. Other parts of the project were funded by the Kiwanis Club and Illinois American Water, who helped with the installation of a new drinking fountain. Not only does the fountain operates as a traditional drinking fountain, but it also can fill water bottles and provide a place for pets to get a drink.

Bob Dieken and the Dieken Family Foundation are also putting a similar fountain in the City Park near the splash pad.

The Streator Rotary Club helped provide funding for a new swing and an additional park bench.

One of the park benches in the center of the bicycling race track is dedicated to the late Brian Devera, who passed away in September 2020 at the age of 59. Devera owned and operated The Edge Gym. Health and wellness were extremely important to him.

Devera was a founding member of Live Well Streator.

“Brian was an inaugural member of our Live Well Streator team and a great leader,” Vogel said. “I can just picture him sitting on the bench smiling, so proud of what’s been accomplished here.”

Vogel said there’s also more to come at Central Park that will be announced at a later time.