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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

1/11/2021

Between December 9th and December 17th 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.

Click here to review the survey results.

 

12/22/2020

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.

12/10/2020

The preliminary concept plans are posted on the website and the virtual community meeting platform is available. Walk through 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.

12/8/2020

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 December 9th through December 17th.

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

11/18/20

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.

11-6-2020

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 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.

10-23-2020:

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.

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 2020 – Oct 2020)
  • Schematic Design Phase (Oct 2020 – Feb 2021)

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

For more information on the overall project schedule click here.

Schematic Design Phase

This past summer, the Park District of Highland Park held a variety of opportunities for residents to provide initial input for the new design of Sunset Woods Park’s iconic Rocket Ship Playground and Titanic Tides Tot Lot, as well as a master plan for the entire park. The design team developed illustrative concepts based on that input.

Between December 9th and December 17th a survey was promoted to collect comments on those preliminary illustrative concept plans.  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.

Click here to view the survey results.

More Ways to Participate in the Conversation

Join One of Our Virtual Project Meetings
Join a virtual community meeting to listen to Park District staff provide an overview of the project, briefly describe the draft concept plans, and answer your questions

Additional dates will be added in February.

 

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions:

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. Recommendations determined through the master planning process are neither funded nor scheduled.

What is the Project Timeline?

There are three phases to the project:

  • Phase 1: Preliminary Design
  • Phase 2: Playground Final Design
  • Phase 3: Playground Construction

Phase 1: Preliminary Design (Fall/Winter 2020 – January 2021)

The Preliminary Design phase has three steps:

  • Step 1. Input
  • Step 2. Review
  • Step 3. Final Concept

Step 1: Input
The project team will collect input from the community on their vision for an updated playground and park.
Step 2: Review
The design firm will take the community feedback and develop an initial concept plan draft to illustrate the feedback that was gathered during Step 1.
Step 3: Final Concept
The project team will gather feedback on the initial draft concept plan. That feedback will be used to refine a final concept plan.

The concept master plan will serve as a tool to guide future capital planning and support funding opportunities.

The playground concept plan developed in Phase 1 will serve as the foundation for Phase 2 playground final design.

Phase 2: Playground Final Design (Early 2021- Spring 2021)
The design team will develop detailed plans for construction. These plans will detail colors, materials, textures, dimensions, and play pieces.

Phase 3: Playground Construction (Spring/Summer – Fall 2021)
The new playground will be constructed. Once construction is completed, the new playground will be open to the community.

What is a concept plan?

A concept plan illustrates a broad vision to garner support and consensus before proceeding into final design phases. Concept plans are typically less detailed than a final design. In this case, specific elements, colors, textures, materials will be determined in final design.

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.

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.

Between December 9th and December 17th a survey was promoted to collect comments on the preliminary illustrative concept plans. 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 community will be given another opportunity in February to view and comment on the final designs.

 

Click here to review the preliminary concept plans. Please note that these plans are currently being revised based on the input collected in December 2020.

 

 

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