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Sunset Woods Park Playground Renovation & Master Planning

Sunset Woods Park serves as Highland Park’s central park, offering active and passive recreation, gathering areas, and connections to the downtown. The Park District Board has approved a planning project for the renovation of the park’s iconic Rocket Ship playground and Titanic Tides tot lot located on the western edge of the park.  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. 

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Project Background

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 is now proceeding with the design phase of replacing the playground equipment, which is approaching its useful life. The planning project kicks-off this summer.

Sunset Woods Park serves as Highland Park’s central park, offering active and passive recreation, gathering areas, and connections to the downtown. The Park Board is also taking advantage of playground design services by approving design services to develop a site master plan for the entire park. This plan will ensure that the playground renovation fits into a modern vision of Sunset Woods Park for the whole community to enjoy. This site master plan was a recommendation in the Park District’s GreenPrint 2024 comprehensive plan.

Construction of the new playground and tot lot is anticipated to occur in 2021. All other park improvements identified in the Sunset Park master plan will be considered for future years.

In keeping with our community engagement tradition, an essential aspect of the Sunset Woods project planning process will be a collaboration with residents. Over the next few months, community members will have a variety of opportunities to provide their input on the playground design and the vision for Sunset Woods. In keeping with COVID-19 DCEO guidelines, online, virtual, and in-person engagement opportunities will be available to all residents.


Project Updates

9-18-2020:

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. In the meantime, continue to send ideas and comments either by email to planning@pdhp.org or on the online comment card.

8-28-2020:

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.

Participants at the 1st Sunset Woods Park Community Open House

8-13-2020:

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.

 


Project Schedule

 

Be a Part of the Conversation

Community members will have a variety of opportunities to provide their input on the playground design and the vision for Sunset Woods during the: Input Phase (Aug – Oct)
and the Schematic Design Phase (Oct-Nov)

Following COVID-19 DCEO guidelines, online, virtual, and in-person engagement opportunities will be available to all residents throughout the Input and Design Phases.

Input Phase

In this stage, the project team wants to hear your vision for Sunset Woods Playground and the Park.  Your input will be used to draft preliminary playground schematic plans and the first draft of the master plan. Those plans will be shared with the community for feedback in October – November during the Schematic Design Phase.

Take a Closer Look  

Before you begin providing your input, you may want to take a closer look at the potential features for the playground and the park.

           

Provide Your Input Now

Select the images that best reflect your vision by taking our survey:

 

       * Please note: The survey will close at 5pm on Tuesday September 22nd. 

Are there existing features of Sunset Woods Park that you love? Like your favorite Sunset Woods features on our interactive map:

More Ways to Participate in the Conversation

Join One of Our Virtual Project Meetings
Learn more about the Sunset Woods Park Playground Renovation and Master Plan project. Park District staff will give an overview of the project, review the different ways to participate in the design process, and answer your questions.

    • To join the meeting on Wednesday September 23 at 12 pm, click here
    • To join the meeting on Thursday October 8 at 1130 am, click here

Stop By the Park For An In-Person Chat
Our project staff will be located at Sunset Woods Park near the field house and available to talk with you about the project and to collect your feedback on these dates:

    • Wednesday,  September 23 from 9 am – 10 am
    • Thursday, October 1 from 3 pm – 4 pm
    • Monday, October 5 from 11 am – 12 pm

If you have additional comments, please email aschwartz@pdhp.org.

If you would like to receive project updates, please complete the Contact Us form.

Fill out the Contact Us Form.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a master plan?

A master plan is a comprehensive plan with long-range goals. A Sunset Woods Park Master Plan will consider the entire Park, connectivity, recreation amenities, and how these amenities serve the Highland Park community and how the Park fits into the Downtown. The final master plan will provide a layout to guide future development and improvements at the park. The recommendations in the master plan will be developed in collaboration with the community. See the participate in the vision tab to see opportunities to participate in the planning.

How will the master plan be used?

The master plan will inform future development at the park. Projects recommended in the master plan will be considered during future year budgeting. With the plan, the Park District can begin to apply for funding opportunities such as the Open Space and Land Acquisition and Development Grant Program offered by the State of Illinois.

What is the difference between the playground project and the master plan?

The playground renovation project’s objective is to replace two of the playgrounds at Sunset Woods, the Rocket Ship playground, and Titanic Tides Tot Lot. The master plan aims to evaluate the park holistically and recommend improvements to the park to serve the community better. The playground -construction is scheduled for 2021.  The master plan project recommendations are currently unbudgeted.

Why is the Park District embarking on this project now?

The playground equipment is aging and in need of replacement. Planning for the playground will take approximately four months. Beginning the design for the playground now puts the Park District in the position to break ground in 2021.

The Park Board decided to include the master planning of the park to ensure that the playground renovation fits into a modern vision for- Sunset Woods.

Can I sign up to get periodic project updates?

Yes, please fill out the contact us form or email aschwartz@pdhp.org and include your name and email address.

When will the playground be renovated?

Renovation of the playground is expected to break ground in Spring 2021.

When will the playground be closed to the public?

The playground will be closed during construction, which is expected to take place in Spring 2021. A detailed timeline will be available in February 2021. The playground will remain open during planning.

Which playgrounds are going to be renovated?

The Titanic Tides Tot Lot and the 21st Century Playground are located on the eastern edge of the park.

Is the Park District taking away any elements in the park as part of this project?

No. The playground project will replace a tot lot and an elementary playground with new equipment for both age groups.

The Master Plan may recommend removal or replacement of amenities within the park, but at this time the District has no plans to remove any amenities at the park.

Coming soon! Concept Plans will be developed  based on the feedback collected from the community.

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