Woodstock plans inclusive playground for all ages and abilities

Playground anticipated to open in 2024

A man fished Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at near the fountain at Emricson Park in Woodstock.

The City of Woodstock has been working on the Nature’s Way Intergenerational Inclusive Playground for almost two years, city documents state. It is anticipated to open next summer.

The city council reviewed proposals for the playground at its last meeting, and city staff asked the council to pick a plan, according to city documents.

The city is striving to create a playground with activities for all ages and abilities.

“The project, as a whole, is designed to provide multiple recreational amenities including accessible surfacing and custom-designed play equipment for children, low-impact exercise equipment for adults, restroom facilities, picnic and game table area, and other amenities that encourage hours-long visits and family enjoyment for all ages and mobilities,” city documents state.

The proposed playground will be near the Dream Field baseball diamond and sledding hill at Emricson Park.

The city council reviewed two options, and while there were differences, the estimated price tags were the same, $1.76 million, according to city documents.

The city has received funding for the project from several sources, including $74,000 from the Community Foundation of McHenry County, $600,000 from the Open Space Lands Acquisition Development program and $11,300 from the public, among other donations.

Option A has a walkway surrounding the perimeter, while option B was more rectangular in shape.

Option B has grass play mounds, which option A does not. Parking arrangements also vary between the two options, with option A having 140 parking spaces and option B having 112 parking spaces.

Residents in Woodstock have generally been supportive of the project.

“Residents have shown positive support for Nature’s Way Intergenerational Inclusive Playground and have expressed their support through written letters, comments at Parks & Recreation Commission and City Council meetings, and through community surveys,” Executive Director of Operations Christina Betz wrote in an email.

Betz asked the city council to come to a consensus on the two options.

While the council supported Option B, members will still have to vote on purchasing restrooms, fitness equipment and a contract for site construction, according to city documents.

“This is a destination, iconic playground,” Mayor Mike Turner said. “I really like the impression B forms.”