By Emily Harrington
It’s no big secret I’ve had my fair share of epic park fails. Some are too big, some are too small, some are too tall and a few are spot on. Depending on your child’s age and ability level, you have to find the park that suits you. Eisner is that park for us.
For my 2-plus-year-old son, this park has just the right height of equipment. I don’t have to hover over him worrying he is going to fall off a mile-high structure and crash onto the choppy mulch. This park feels safe, and it does not feel restrictive. It does not feel sterile, and it has creative playthings I have never seen before.
It helps that this park is first and foremost very new. I remember playing on Eisner’s old metal equipment while my brother played little league decades ago.
In the fall of 2014, Eisner unveiled itself as an all-inclusive play area adjacent to Hayes Recreation Center/Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR). The playground is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act appropriately complementing programming at CUSR. The park sits on 4.1 acres at 1311 W. Church St. in Champaign with on-street parking available.
Anyone at any ability level will enjoy this park thanks to its thoughtful modifications. For example, the four-man teeter totter has bucket seating with lap belts rather than seats with no sides or belts. The merry-go-round is all plastic with enclosed sides, so you can’t fly out as with traditional, open, metal merry-go-rounds. Same goes for the swings. Watch out for the closing latch on the modified swing. It can come down fast.
Instead of mulch (the bane of my existence), a rubber material cushions any falls. It also doesn’t hold moisture, so if you are playing after a day of rain—no problem. This mulch-free material is also more accessible than mulch. People needing help maneuvering have an easier time on the smooth surface.
There are neat sensory stations within the structure like a musical wall and large colored marbles that move underneath your hands. Oh, and don’t go down the rolly slide. Have your little one go down; but as an adult —don’t. It’s a pain in the butt. Literally. The slide is made up of hard rollers. To a kid — cool. To an adult — ouch.
The sway boat was our favorite part. Your child can sit in the boat while you move from side to side rocking it. There is a twisty slide, dueling straight slides, an enclosed tube to crawl through and a rubber bridge, too.
We did wander around and visit the batting cage, tennis court, basketball court, baseball diamond and adjacent portable potty, too. Revisit this updated neighborhood park featuring new, safe equipment in a charming area of town.
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie who left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job to be a 24/7 mom to a dreamy son. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Oh, and let’s not forget her other son, a degenerate canine named Heppenheimer.