Wheaton, Winfield cooperate to open new park
Learning to cooperate with others is an essential part of successful childhood play.
It's a lesson the Wheaton and Winfield park districts have incorporated into their activities, and one example is Silverwood Glen Park, completed in mid-October and now open in Winfield's Silverwood Glen neighborhood at 26W495 Churchill Woods Road.
The park results from a partnership between the districts that started with meetings between the executive directors of the nine member park districts of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, which provides services for the special needs population of western DuPage County.
Wheaton already had "identified the northwest corner of its district as one area that was lacking a playground," said Steve Hinchee, superintendent of planning at the district.
"When we learned the park that was planned as part of the new Silverwood Glen development in Winfield was going to be right at our boundary, it only seemed natural to look for a way to provide mutual benefit to residents of both districts," he said.
And they found a way. An intergovernmental agreement was drawn up to formally guide the partnership, with both districts contributing resources.
"Winfield purchased all the materials and equipment for the project, including the playground surfacing," Hinchee said. "Wheaton Park District provided all the labor to construct the playground."
Wheaton Park District surveyed the community in early 2015 and prepared plans for the park based on feedback. Permits were secured in late summer, ground was broken in early September, and work was finished in mid-October, according to Hinchee.
Except for the poured-in-place rubber surfacing, which an outside contractor managed, the Wheaton Park District Parks Department installed all the equipment.
That equipment includes realistic rock climbing formations and a ZipKrooz -- a two-way zip line that eliminates the need to walk the seat back to the start -- plus a TopsyTurny Spinner, swings, and shaded picnic areas.
"The joint effort has resulted in all of the neighbors having a park site that exceeds the play features either neighborhood would normally see built near their homes," said Mark Pawlowski, executive director of the Winfield Park District.
"Additionally, the park is located adjacent the HOA (homeowners association) walking trail and wetland preserve."
Along with supplying the park's materials, Winfield Park District has donated $25,000 to the Sensory Garden Playground located in the Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton.
"This seemed like a good contribution for Winfield Park District because it helps to enhance a unique park site that is geared for special needs populations," Pawlowski said. "Winfield residents with special needs will benefit from having this park built in their neighboring community."
The Sensory Garden Playground is dedicated to providing outdoor play spaces and gardens designed to meet the needs of all visitors, especially those on the autism spectrum.
It is a joint project between the Wheaton Park District, Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Kiwanis Club of Wheaton, Shane's Inspiration, and Landscape Structures, Inc.
The Rotary clubs of Wheaton, Carol Stream, Lisle and West Chicago, as well as Rotary International, have already made substantial contributions to the playground.
The Sensory Garden Playground's equipment is funded solely through private donations, grants and sponsors, which allow the space to be free to all.
Donations for the Sensory Garden Playground can be made online at www.playforalldupage.org.