By Emily Harrington
I typically avoid North Prospect at all costs. This avoidance leads me down some alternative paths. Recently, I caught a glimmer out of the corner of my eye while going down North Market Street. It was bright, shiny playground equipment. As a mom—I tend to notice these things.
After further investigating, I learned this was the 1.9-acre Beardsley Park at 1006 N. Walnut St. off East Beardsley Avenue in Champaign.
Because this park is nestled in a neighborhood, you’ll have to park on the street. Which isn’t an issue since there’s plenty of parking.
According to the Champaign Park District (CPD), Beardsley Park is the oldest neighborhood park—established in 1874! With this kind of longevity it’s no wonder the park needed some sprucing up. This came in the form of a two-phase renovation. The first part of the renovation was completed just this spring. This part of the project is geared toward the older set—school age. It was perfect, however, for my 4-year-old son.
The brand new structure has some really neat features. A few I haven’t seen before. And I’ve been to A LOT of parks. One of the features was a soft rubber platform suspended in between two poles. I thought it looked like a floating surfboard. Also, a climbing wall with a rope attached from above. This way kids can use just their feet to climb up while mostly using their upper body strength to move themselves upward.
There are some more traditional parts, too. The park has swings (including an accessible swing), dueling slides that are bumpy, a twisty slide that is huge, musical playthings, monkey bars, a traditional climbing wall, teeter totter and a momentum spinny thing that makes me sick to my stomach—but the kids love it!
I love the color scheme for this playground, too. Lime, turquoise and red. The combination is unusual, but it looks really good!
According to the CPD, phase 2 will be just to the east of where phase 1 is situated. This play equipment will be more geared toward younger kids (2-5 year olds), and it will feature a small climbing structure, two-seated teeter totter and bucket swings for smaller children. Phase 2 is set to begin this fall, and it will finish before the ground freezes.
There are picnic benches, grills, portable potties and a full-size basketball court on the edges of the park.
Phil Burke, the CPD park planner, said the previous play structure was installed in 1997, and it was nearing the end of its lifespan.
“As part of our regular operating costs we maintain an ongoing list of playgrounds scheduled for upgrades,” Burke said.
Burke added that West Side Park is next on the revamp list!
So, next time you are avoiding traffic on North Prospect—consider a pit stop at Beardsley Park. And watch out for coverage on West Side Park’s future renovation!
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie. She left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job in communications so that she could be a 24/7 mom to two busy boys. 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. Emily usually finds herself engulfed in balls, blue and belly laughs.