By Emily Harrington
You know how your favorite sweater is just so comfortable and cozy—your go-to favorite? It fits just right every time. That’s Hessel Park in Champaign. But, just like your favorite sweater, it’s beginning to look a little worn and threadbare.
The park has been so loved and used by the community over the years; it’s starting to show its age. The most recent playground update (and corresponding birth of Hessel Park Waterplay) was 20 years ago. In an effort to revitalize and keep Hessel a family favorite, the Champaign Park District (CPD) is setting the park up for a makeover starting early spring 2016.
CPD lead park planner and landscape architect Andrew Weiss said the existing play areas (in particular the splash pad) are coming to the end of their useful life.
He explained the CPD has a district-wide playground equipment replacement program, and the Hessel Park playground is a priority since it’s one of the larger, more popular play areas in the community.
The construction has been divided into two phases.
- Phase 1—completion goal by late spring/early summer 2016
This phase will consist of constructing the new playground just south of the existing playground and splash pad.
- Phase 2—completion goal by spring 2017
This phase will consist of constructing a new splash pad where the current playground and splash pad are located. The goal of the new splash pad is to be compatible with the recently created Douglass Park Splash Pad. This way features and functionality can be interchanged seasonally keeping the experience fresh and new for the kids. CPD director of marketing and communications Chelsea Norton said the previous Douglass Park renovations will serve as a template for the Hessel Park overhaul since the scope and timing of the projects are so similar.
During this phase, new American Disabilities Act compliant restroom facilities will be constructed where the current bathrooms are.
Throughout both phases, new concrete pathway connections will be laid.
“Our goal is to also provide elements like a shade structure, a pavilion, benches and more,” Weiss said.
He added that the full scope and budget for phase 2 has not been finalized since the 2016 budget planning is still underway.
Since both phases will be completed when park season is gearing up — spring — the CPD plans to keep the park available to users as much as possible during the process.
“The features at Hessel Park are too popular to take offline completely, and we’re minimizing interruptions as much as possible,” Weiss said.
This mom is already looking forward to spring 2016!
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie that 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.