Volunteers get on track at Caboose Park
A playground at a popular park in Lake Villa Township got its first major addition in more than 20 years over the weekend with the help of more than 40 volunteers.
Volunteers assembled the railroad-themed piece of play equipment at Lake Villa Township Park, commonly known as Caboose Park for the authentic Soo Line caboose parked on tracks at North Fairfield Road and Grand Avenue.
Participating groups included Hope Community Church, Chain of Lake Community Bible Church, Calvary Chapel and the Lake Villa Township Lions Club.
The township saved an estimated $15,000 by having the community assemble the equipment, said township Supervisor Dan Venturi.
Caboose Park is popular and has a mix of features, including the vintage caboose, a 1970s merry-go-round and other equipment, but an upgrade was in order, he said.
"We were getting comments from parents that had been coming to the park as children and saying nothing had changed," Venturi added. "So we thought we would look at an improvement."
Township officials saw the new equipment at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union and determined it was a perfect match.
The township went out to bids and with a $14,000 grant from the manufacturer, were able to purchase the equipment for $51,000, including direction and supervision for a "community build," he added.
An outdated monkey bar set was removed but the other play equipment is in good shape and there are no plans to add more, Venturi said.
Caboose Park is the largest of the township parks and houses the township office.
Other features include a 27-foot by 42-foot sandbox with a "fossil find" area; three pavilions with picnic tables, grills, a volleyball court and horseshoe pit; two tennis courts; three baseball fields; a football field; and a sled hill.