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Community asked for input on redesign of Irwin Park play area

Residents got a first look at three plans before the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District for updating the playground at the west end of Irwin Park. The park in Homewood is along Ridge Road between Gottschalk and Highland Avenues.

Liz Dafoe of Upland Design, the consulting firm working on the plans, shared insights on the designs at a meeting Thursday, June 27, for a concept master plan. 

This design for playground equipment at Irwin Park is one of three designs being considered by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

The park board is hoping to receive a 50/50 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Grant awarded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to cover the cost of the renovations estimated at $1.2 million. The work is contingent on the park district receiving the grant, according to Doug Boehm, park district executive director.

The park district has a survey online at https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/sv/aTsZpEf/IrwinPark asking residents to prioritize what they want to see in the park. The survey includes photos of the various equipment and drawings of the park layout.

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Dafoe said the preliminary plan calls for adding fitness equipment near the shelter, adding outdoor stationary games, enhancing the park’s sculpture and adding a rain garden that could help with some areas that are low and retain water after rains.

There would be more seating with raised planter beds and musical play components, such as chimes. Another option includes seating at various levels under a shade sail, and a third is a pergola that could house an industrial strength porch swing that would look out on the rain garden.   

There was interest in including a dedicated walking path at the park.

The playground area is large at about 9,000 square feet, Dafoe said. The plan calls for moving the seating area to the side, off the walk entryway on Gottschalk. Around picnic tables situated under the trees, the plan calls for hopscotch and other games that could be a landscape buffer between the playground and the seating area. 

The plans call for all new play equipment. Upland has proposals from three different manufacturers. Each design segregates the play area into sections for young children up to age 4 and older children up to age 12. The play equipment will be accessible and meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

The designs vary between manufacturers, but each includes six swings – two for tots and four belt swings. Kids will still see the typical slides and monkey bars, but they could get zip lines, a round spinner, net climbers and Gyro spinners.

Dafoe asked for feedback on keeping the ball field in the park. It doesn’t get much use; teams play at other parks or at Izaak Walton Preserve. The area could be left as green space, or it could be part of a new walking path.

Currently, no changes are planned for the fountain or the gazebo area.

Upland Design expects to have revisions to the plans by August for the park board. Upland Design will handle the OSLAD grant application for the park district. 

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