Sunset Woods Park Playground Renovation & Master Plan
Start Date
August 2020
Projected End Date
July 2022
Location
1801 Sunset Road

Sunset Woods Park serves as Highland Park’s central park, offering active and passive recreation, gathering areas, and connections to the downtown. On July 28, 2020, the Park District Board of Commissioners approved design services to renovate the Sunset Woods Park’s iconic Rocket Ship playground and Titanic Tides tot lot located on the western edge of the park. The Park District is committed to taking care of park properties, and construction of the new playground and tot lot will begin on August 16, 2021.

The Park Board also approved development of a master plan for the entire park, ensuring that the playground renovation fits into a modern vision of Sunset Woods and the City Downtown District. This site master plan was a recommendation in the Park District’s GreenPrint 2024 Comprehensive Plan and will be considered for future years.

In keeping with our community engagement tradition, an essential aspect of the Sunset Woods project planning process included collaboration with residents. Throughout the past year, community members had a variety of opportunities to provide input on the playground design and master plan. The Park Board of Commissioners approved the plan on December 16, 2021.

Schedule
Dates
In collaboration with the community, the project team will develop two schematic plan alternatives for the playground renovation and a master plan design
Input
Aug-Sep 2020
Residents will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the two playground schematic designs and the master plan to guide the final plan
Schematic Design
Oct-Nov 2020
The community selected preferred playground design will go on to final design in preparation for construction
Final Playground Design
Winter 2021
Construct the preferred design selected by the community
Playground Construction
Fall 2021 – Spring 2022
Identify funds to implement master plan recommendations
Master Plan
2021+

Commemorative Bricks

Looking for a meaningful way to commemorate a special event or memorialize a loved one and give back to your community? Purchase a $200 engraved brick with a message of your choice to help the Parks Foundation of Highland Park raise funds to build a playground seating plaza between the new playgrounds!

Project Updates

Stay Up to Date on the Latest Renovations

June 21, 2022

The playground is full of color with the installation of the pour in place rubber surfacing currently underway. Construction crews continue wrapping up the playground equipment installation. The equipment is nearly 100% complete with a few minor pieces remaining for the rocket ship and the wavy net climber. Also this week, crews will be pouring concrete at the playground entry points and installing site furniture and landscaping. Inspections are scheduled and the team expects the playground to be open by July 13.

June 21, 2022
June 21, 2022

There is a lot of activity at Sunset Woods as the team works to complete the playground. Though the project faced a new challenge – a trucker’s strike impacting material access – which delayed the start of the rubber surfacing, the crew continued to work on playground installation, fencing, and completing the brick paver seating plaza. An alternative material source was identified, and the pour-in-place surface installation will begin this week. Crews will continue the installation of the rocket slides, the wavy net climber, and site landscaping and amenities. Also, ongoing this week, new park signs are being installed throughout the park. The Park District is doing everything in its power to open the Park before July 4; however, the weather may impact opening over the next few weeks. Please be aware that while the park may appear complete, the construction fence will remain until the safety rubber surfacing has cured and a full inspection has been completed.

June 21, 2022
June 10, 2022

Crews have made great progress this week. The final cap of the rocket tower was installed after waiting for a missing connection from the play equipment manufacturer. Crews will continue working on the surrounding panels through next week. The wavy net climber and sand tables are nearing completion along with the seating plaza in both the 2-5 and 5-12 play areas.  Installation of the pour-in-place surfacing is expected to begin next week. Next week, crews will also be working on the turf restoration, fencing, and framing for the entry areas. The project team expects the work to be completed the week of June 27, weather permitting.

June 10, 2022
June 3, 2022

The crews are making great progress at Sunset Woods even while working through some equipment setbacks. Concrete walks are 90% complete and the rocket play structure accessories and panels are installed. Next week crews will focus on the installation of the final cap of the rocket ship, the wavy net climber, and seating plaza. Preparation for the pour in place rubber surfacing began this week and continues next week, with pour in place installation expected to begin the week of the 13th, weather dependent.

June 3, 2022
May 24, 2022

The crew is making progress on the rocket though it is going slower than anticipated due to some complications with the rocket panels. The foundation footings for the wavy net climber are complete and installation will begin this week. Concrete walks are being poured this week, and site improvements to the park entry have begun, including removing the old water fountain and prep work in advance of installing the new water fountain. This week, new concrete pads are scheduled to be poured for new amenities, including a trash/recycling receptacle and bike rack. The additional work required for the rocket tower has delayed the project slightly; the project team is estimating project completion the week of June 27.

May 24, 2022
May 12, 2022

Finally, an entirely dry week! Great progress has been made at the construction site. Most notably, stage 2 of the rocket ship is installed, and crews are starting to pour the concrete for the walkways. About 70% of the playground equipment is installed, and crews will be working on the remaining pieces next week, including the net climber. Crews are also working on improvements to the park entrance, including new benches, a bike rack, a water fountain, and landscaping. The project is on track to be completed by the week of June 20.

May 12, 2022
May 6, 2022

This week, the crews focused on the installation of the freestanding equipment, including the embankment slides, glide rails, the log steps in the 2-5 play area, as well as the worm talk tubes. Next week is expected to be dry and warm. If you take a walk in the park, you’ll see crews pouring concrete and continuing to build the second stage of the rocket. The project is on track to be completed by the week of June 20.

May 6, 2022
April 29, 2022

We’ve had our longest dry stretch for construction this Spring and making significant progress. Crews focused this week on the layout and framing of the seating plaza and surrounding walkways, as well as continued construction of the rocket and launch tower. As we near the completion of the project, the Park District will close in on a grand opening date. Currently, the project team is estimating the week of June 20.

April 29, 2022
April 14, 2022

April has brought more dry days, which is great news for the project. Crews started excavation for the rocket ship footings last week; the new footings and first platforms were installed this week. Installation of the hillside play equipment and concrete work for the curbs and pathways continues. We are hopeful that we will meet our June 2022 completion date, though the rain over the last month may have set the project back slightly. The project team is reviewing the schedule.

April 14, 2022
April 7, 2022

Unfortunately, the rain has slowed down progress at the construction site. Crews have done what they can including removal of the existing asphalt walk in the 2-5 play area, installation of play components, and continuing to layout and frame the concrete walk. The team is hopeful for better weather to make significant progress in the coming weeks.

April 7, 2022
March 31, 2022

Construction started back up in mid-March with crews cleaning the site and sorting playground equipment in preparation for installation. Work on the concrete curbing layout and framing continues. New this week, crews installed a net climber/spinner play piece. Next week, park visitors will begin to see the beginnings of the rocket ship. The project team is hoping for more dry days to keep on schedule.

March 31, 2022
January 7, 2022

Construction at Sunset Woods Park continued through December 2021 up to New Year’s Eve Day. Cold weather will slow down construction over the next month or two. However, the concrete contractor expects to continue work through the winter as weather allows.

Nearly all the play equipment has been received and we are expected to receive the remaining spinner in February. Work is expected to pick back up in March, weather dependent, at which point construction crews will finish up concrete masonry work, playground installation, pour-in-place surfacing, fencing, and landscaping. Target completion is Spring 2022.

January 7, 2022
December 16, 2021

The project gained a few bonus days for construction in December. If you take a walk near the park, you’ll see a lot of progress in the tot lot. The tot-lot swings are installed and the primary play structure is 90% complete. The footings for the other tot lot play pieces are also installed. Progress continues throughout the site, including grade staking to mark the location for future elements, formwork for paths and curbs, and pouring concrete for curbing. Construction will slow down over the holidays and through the colder months.

December 16, 2021
December 3, 2021

Crews are taking advantage of the warmer weather and have made significant progress. Curbs continue to go in as well as stakes marking the locations for the future playground elements. With the locations marked, crews have started working on the installation of the tot lot play equipment.

December 3, 2021
November 18, 2021

Though the temperatures are dropping, crews are continuing to work at Sunset Woods Park. This week, the focus is on the perimeter curbs and marking the layout of the new play equipment.

November 18, 2021
November 12, 2021

The drainage connections have been installed, which concludes the drainage work at the site. This week, crews will focus on the concrete curbs and the layout of the tot lot play structure in preparation for installation.

November 12, 2021
November 5, 2021

More play equipment has arrived for the new Sunset Woods Playground, including the tot lot primary play structure and vine climber. The remaining drainage connections were delivered this week and are nearly all installed. The cold weather this week delayed concrete work but the crews are hopeful that they will begin pouring the curbs early next week.

November 5, 2021
October 29, 2021

Play equipment is starting to arrive! We received the acorn climber for the tot lot. Weather depending, installation of tot lot equipment is expected to begin next month. While the rain has slowed down work, Crews continue to work on formwork for curbing and rebuilding the stone seating walls. The drainage system is nearly complete; crews are waiting for a custom drainage connection to wrap up the drainage work.

October 29, 2021
October 22, 2021

While the rain we’ve seen this past week has slowed down the work, crews are progressing on the framework for the concrete curbing.

October 22, 2021
October 14, 2021


As work on the drainage system and grading wrap up, keep an eye out for new elements to take shape. This week crews are backfilling the trenches and finishing up installing the drainage system. Next up is the framing for the concrete curb surrounding the playgrounds.

October 14, 2021
October 7, 2021

The contractor has completed the installation of the stone base and drainage pipe throughout both play areas. Next week crews will begin backfilling the trenches and framing to start the concrete perimeter curbing.

October 7, 2021
September 30, 2021

Crews have laid out the drainage pipe and trenched it in preparation for the new drainage system installation. The stone base and pipes will also be installed next week.

September 30, 2021
September 24, 2021

This past week, crews focused on preparing the site and underground drainage for the new playground. Rough grading and installation of the underground drainage system began as well.

September 24, 2021
September 17, 2021

Demolitions and removals are nearing completion and the project site is looking more like a blank canvas ready for the new playgrounds. Next week crews will finish with demolition and removals and begin preparation for site grading and drainage.

September 17, 2021
September 2, 2021

Crews continue to work on removals and demolition in preparation for the new site improvements. Towards the end of next week, crews expect to begin grading and drainage improvements on the site.

September 2, 2021
August 27, 2021

The rocket ship came down this week along with the tot lot pirate ship play structure, spring toys, and swings. Next week crews will continue removal of the remaining play equipment, engineered wood fiber safety surfacing, and stone retaining walls.

August 27, 2021
August 24, 2021

The playground renovations at Sunset Woods Park are well underway! Construction fencing went up last week and preliminary site work is complete. Contractors will begin demolition this week. Stay tuned for a timelapse video of the rocket ship coming down.

August 24, 2021
August 10, 2021


Members of the Park Board of Commissioners with help from some playground enthusiasts broke ground on the much-anticipated new Rocket Ship and Nature-Themed playgrounds at Sunset Woods Park. 

Beginning Monday, August 16, the two playgrounds will be fenced off and crews will begin the demolition process of the existing parks. If Mother Nature cooperates, the new playgrounds will open in Spring 2022.

August 10, 2021
July 28, 2021

The playground renovation construction is set to start in mid-August.

At the July 27 Board Meeting, the Park Board approved the Sunset Woods Park Playground Renovation construction contracts. Construction is set to begin mid-August for the grand opening in Spring 2022 (weather dependent). Check out the renderings of the new playground.

July 28, 2021
July 23, 2021

On July 10, the Park District activated Sunset Woods Park for Unplug Illinois Day. The Planning Department joined the event as an opportunity to collect feedback for the Master Plan. We heard from neighbors and park users and continue to welcome feedback on the plan. See the updated Master Plan.

The Park District has been busy finalizing the playground renovation plans based on feedback from the community. See updated playground plans. Bids for the construction of the playground were received on July 8 and will be presented to the Park Board on July 27 for the award. The construction is expected to begin in August 2021.

July 23, 2021
February 26, 2021

On February 23, the Park Board approved a proposal to proceed with the final design and construction services for the playground renovation project. During this phase of the project, design consultants will use the playground concept plans developed with input from the community to advance the playground plans for construction. The designs developed through the final design phase will be bid for construction in late summer 2021.

The project team continues to finalize the master plan based on community input.  Once approved, the final master plan will guide future development.  The project team expects to present a final master plan document to the Park Board in the coming months.

February 26, 2021
February 16, 2021

The project team has refined the plans based on your feedback.  Now is your opportunity to review the updated plans and provide additional comments.  We are accepting comments on the project through Thursday, February 18.  If you have additional questions and comments, please email aschwartz@pdhp.org.

View the plans.

February 16, 2021
January 27, 2021

Thank you to the community members who took the time to provide valuable input on the Sunset Woods Park playground concept plan and park master plan!

We heard:
– That many were not supportive of the proposed North Parking Lot
– There is a high interest in a splash pad and adult fitness
– The local tennis community values the clay courts and the bank of asphalt courts

The project team is working on refining the plan. Some updates you’ll see in the plan are:
– Removal of the parking lot near the north pavilion
– Retaining the clay courts and the asphalt courts
– A splash pad near the playground

The refined master plan will be shared with the community in February.

Playground: The renovation of the playground is scheduled to start this summer. A final concept for the playground will be presented to the Park Board for approval in February.

Park Master Plan: The final park master plan recommendations are not scheduled but will guide future development.

January 27, 2021
January 11, 2021

Between December 9-17, a survey was promoted to collect comments on the preliminary illustrative concept plans. The project team has aggregated the survey results, to review the results click the link below. The results from the survey and the comments received will be used to further refine the plans. The community will be given another opportunity in February to view and comment on the final designs.

January 11, 2021
December 22, 2020

Thank you to everyone that participated in the survey. We heard from over 350 respondents. The project team is reviewing the results and will be sharing the highlights in the next few weeks. The results from the survey and the comments received will be used to further refine the plans. The revised plans will be shared with the community in February 2021.

Survey Results

December 22, 2020
December 10, 2020

The preliminary concept plans are posted on the website and the virtual community meeting platform is available. Walkthrough a self-guided presentation to see the preliminary concept plans and then take the survey to share your comments. The survey will be open through December 17th.

December 10, 2020
December 8, 2020

The Sunset Woods Park Playground Renovation and Master Plan project update will be presented tonight at the December 8th Park Board meeting. The presentation will include illustrative concepts developed based on community input.

The design team is now looking for feedback on these initial concepts. Your feedback will be invaluable as the team refines the plans to be presented to the Park Board in February 2021.

The survey will be open from December 9-17.

Click here for a brief self-guided presentation and for a link to the survey.

December 8, 2020
November 18, 2020

The Sunset Woods Park Playground Renovation and Master Plan presentation scheduled for the November 17 Park Board Meeting and an online survey requesting community feedback expected to start on November 19 have been postponed. Due to COVID-19 emergency orders issued by Governor Pritzker and the City of Highland Park, the Park District had to refocus its attention for the November 17 Board Meeting. The project team will schedule the Sunset Woods Park Playground Renovation and Master Plan project presentation to the Park Board for a later date. The online survey will open for community comment following the Park Board presentation. The Park District will continue to post project updates on the website and will announce the adjusted timeline when available.

November 18, 2020
November 6, 2020

The project team targeted presenting the Sunset Woods Park Playground Renovation and Master Plan Project draft concept plans to the Park Board on Nov 10. The presentation has been rescheduled to Nov 17 to provide the team with additional time to refine the plans.

The draft plans will include illustrations based on the feedback we heard from the community, staff, and board. These initial drafts will facilitate discussion and collect input to refine further the concept plan that will serve as the foundation for the final design; therefore, the clarity of these plans is of utmost importance. With additional design time, the project team is refining the concept drafts and coordinating with playground manufacturers to develop images to illustrate the play equipment’s conceptual vision.

November 6, 2020
October 23, 2020

Thank you again for your interest in the Sunset Woods Park Playground and Master Plan project. The project team was excited to share the plans with the community at the end of this month; however, we have adjusted the schedule to allow for more design time.

Park District staff are working closely with Hitchcock Design Group to ensure that the initial plans follow the community, staff, and Park Board feedback. After further discussion with Hitchcock Design Group, the project team determined it was best to adjust the schedule to allow for more time to develop the initial plans.

Following the updated schedule, Hitchcock Design Group will present the plans at the November 10 public Park Board Meeting. Following the meeting, the plans will be available for public comment.

October 23, 2020
September 18, 2020

Over the past few weeks, we have heard from many of you about your vision for Sunset Woods Playground and Park. Just over 300 people participated in a vision survey online, we spoke with participants at the open house, and patrons using the parks. We heard some creative ideas including interest in ziplines, play structures with height, and hill play. Beyond the playground, we heard an interest in park elements such as a splash pad, a wheel-friendly plaza, and fitness opportunities. The project team is busy reviewing your feedback to finalize a project program that will guide the initial schematic plans for the playground and master plan. These plans are expected to be presented to the community at the end of October. At that time, there will be opportunities to collaborate with the Project Team on the design and share your feedback.

September 18, 2020
August 28, 2020


On Wednesday, The Park District hosted a Community Open House at the large open-air pavilion east of the playgrounds at Sunset Woods Park. Around twenty people stopped by and shared their input and participated in the visioning exercise presented by Hitchcock Design Group. Participants were asked to place two dots on images that best reflected their vision of the Playground and two more dots on images reflecting their vision of the park. Online and virtual opportunities to participate in the design effort are now available on the website.  The information collected during the input phase will be used to develop the initial schematic plans. In October, residents will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the initial schematic plans.

August 28, 2020
August 13, 2020

We’d like to hear your thoughts and ideas on potential future development at the park as well as the playground renovation project. The first Community Open House has been scheduled for August 26th, 2020 from 430pm – 630pm at Sunset Woods Park, Large Pavilion (located in the central section of the park near the four playground areas). Stop by to share your vision for Sunset Woods Park.  The project planning staff will be available to answer your questions and collect your feedback.   Visuals and comment cards will be available. The event will be arranged for proper social distancing. Participants are required to wear face masks.

This will be the first of a series of community input opportunities.

August 13, 2020