By Emily Harrington
Better late than never—this old adage is proving true this fall. The wait for Savoy’s Colbert Park playground installation was well worth it.
A few months after the projected deadline, the Colbert Park playground is functional and ready for kiddos to play! Dana Colbert Park is located at 203 East Church St., two blocks east of Route 45 in Savoy. Many moms have been staking out the development and sudden lack of progress on the new playground this summer.
Toby Koontz, parks and grounds supervisor for the Village of Savoy, explained the playground construction delay.
“Our builders had already committed to another (playground) job before our site was ready,” Koontz said.
The builders were working on another playground installation at a school up north. There was so much construction on the school that they no longer had room to work on the playground. They came to the Savoy project to start playground construction for efficiency sake while the construction crews cleared out at the school, Koontz said.
They were about 75 percent done when they had to leave to go back to their prior commitment at the school. A few weeks later the crews returned to finish what they started.
There are two main structures designed in Fighting Illini orange and blue, no less. The main structure is geared towards 5-to-12-year-olds, and the smaller structure is designed for 2-to-5-year-olds. Both structures are footed in wood mulch engineered for playground safety. There are also large sun catchers at the peaks of the equipment that (on a sunny day) filter colored light onto the ground — think stained glass.
The larger structure features hanging bars, two smaller slides, a medium-sized swirly slide, small dueling slides, rope webs, a climbing wall and many little playthings to climb and hang from. They all connect to a walkway which leads to a tower where you can enter the two large tube slides. These slides are HUGE. They reminded me more of something you’d see at a water park rather than a playground park. I tested the sturdy construction myself when I clumsily took a ride down to amuse my little one on the other end.
The smaller structure has a shorter walkway with a small, bumpy slide and a larger, straight slide. My son liked the flower spinner made of translucent plastic that intertwines colors when you turn the knob.
Behind the equipment are the swings. One of the most exciting pieces is a parent-child swing. You won’t see this anywhere else in our area. My son and I immediately tried one of the two parent-child swings. This swing is basically the amalgamation of a regular belt swing and a toddler bucket swing. You get to face and interact with each other instead of staring at their back while you push them. I “pumped” my legs to increase our momentum, and my son giggled in delight. You’ll be hard pressed not to smile while you are on this swing. It’s a great way to be immersed into the easy amusement and innocence that comes with childhood.
In fact, I may have been a little too immersed in the experience. My son kept saying, “Higher mommy, higher!” I probably pumped too hard as his butt started rising out of the seat and I started getting super nauseous So, listen to your responsible self and not your adrenaline junkie of a toddler, and pump at your own risk.
The next time we went to the park swinging was the first thing he wanted to do. Next to these tandem swings are regular belt swings for the older set. Koontz said parents are especially excited about the interactive swings.
“Those swings were (designed) for a parent to interact with their infant while swinging, but after talking to a couple of moms, they found another use,” Koontz said. “They let their older child sit and swing a younger sibling that doesn’t know how to kick their feet yet.”
In addition to the swings, “The (park) feedback has been all positive,” Koontz said.
You may see a dumpster and a few workers finishing up, but don’t hesitate to visit before the weather wanes.
“The playground is about 95 percent complete right now,” Koontz said.
There is landscaping around the playground that needs to mature; it’s currently mesh-covered hay and dirt. A concrete sidewalk in front of the park needs to be connected to the parking lot. There is also a piece of plywood securely covering a lapse in the small structure’s railing. Another slide will fit into this gap, but it’s on backorder for a few weeks, Koontz said. Despite those few punch list items, the playground is fully functional and safe.
However, bring your sunblock. There aren’t any mature trees yet to provide shade. Also, since the original Colbert Park article, three grills have been installed next to the two pavilions, and a sand volleyball court is taking shape. The court should be completed this fall, Koontz said. Next year you can look forward to a small pavilion by the playground, benches, drinking fountains and picnic tables, pending budget, Koontz said.
The park is already getting a lot of visitors as the volume of cars going in and out has increased quite a bit. The playground addition to Colbert Park is truly a welcome and highly anticipated asset to Savoy and the surrounding communities.
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.