New playground at Ledgewood/Stone Creek Schools may be only 2-3 weeks away
New playground equipment shared by Ledgewood School and Stone Creek School will be accessible even for children in wheelchairs. It largely replaces a beloved community-built playground from 1990. Ledgewood School includes preschool-1st grade children while adjacent Stone Creek School includes 2nd-3rd grade.
Brett Hruby, Business Administrator for Kinnikinnick School District, told Rockton-Roscoe News that they asked Custom Playgrounds to try to save the little towers of the existing playground, as a "nostalgic piece." But given the age of the structure, no one at Custom Playgrounds was optimistic. "A couple of pieces have been set aside," he says, "but it will remain to be seen if reinstallation will be possible."
Hruby said, "The demolition began Tuesday afternoon [Sept. 20] and is expected to be completed by the end of the week with installation of the new structures to follow immediately afterward. Custom Playgrounds is performing the work and projects 2-3 weeks for project completion depending upon the weather."
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In May, we reported that the new playground would be totally ADA compatible for kids in wheelchairs, to "get them up in the thick of things." Hruby said there would be "less to maintain, so we could do a better job of it."
Seeing their old playground reach the end of its life is bittersweet for many Roscoe residents. Some of the children who first played on the equipment, manufactured by Kids World Play Systems, are nearing 40 years old. After the community raised funds to buy it, it was mostly assembled by volunteers on weekends in 1990. The project was a cooperative venture between the community and the school district. David Warner even created a web page in 2003 with memories of building it and photos of grandchildren playing on it.
But most community members, though they will miss the old playground, say they are glad the new equipment will benefit children with disabilities. Hruby's wife Caron teaches preschool at Ledgewood, and Hruby has noted that lots of little kids have a hard time getting onto swings.
Sheena Stanfa shares personal insights when she says, "Sad to see something the community worked together to build and has played on for many years taken down. However, as a parent of a child with cerebral palsy that uses a wheelchair and walker I’m happy for plans for a playground that she can participate with her peers more easily."
Sharon Batchelor, one of the volunteer coordinators back in 1990, says, "I am both sad but happy to see it replaced. There were over 1,000 volunteers that week it was built. But after it was built, there was no plan to maintain it."
Nathan Wolf says, "Nostalgia is hard to let go of sometimes. Yes, the new will be nice for everyone. And we will go all the time, until my kids are too old to play." His 10-year-old son Leo, some of whose photos accompany this article, told his father, "It was cool to play on something that you and Opa built a long time ago."
Beth Krane of Chicory Ridge is sad too. She says, "I used to take my boys there to play. It was fun even to watch but as an adult to run around the forts and bridges."
Hruby provided an artist rendition of the basic structures, and adds that while the actual colors may be slightly different, they will follow the manufacturer's "Woodlands" scheme of brown, beige, and green.
The ADA Inclusive structure will replace the front portion of Ledgewood and Stone Creek's original Kids World structure, according to Hruby. He says, "The remaining portion of Kids World will serve as the backdrop for this new structure, which will allow handicapped students to participate in activities with their peers."
Several years ago, with assistance from a local Ecolab grant, the Kinnikinnick District was able to install modern swings. The Preschool structure will be installed in front of those swings. An additional swing will be installed directly behind the existing Ecolab swings.
The ADA Inclusive structure was purchased with assistance of Federal funds approved as part of the Kinnikinnick District's Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2020-2021 grant application. The Preschool structure was purchased with assistance of State of Illinois Preschool for All funds approved as part of the District's 2019-2020 grant application, while the additional swing set was approved as part of the District's 2020-2021 grant application.
At some time in the future, the final phase of the Ledgewood/Stone Creek Playground renovations will be added through a donation from Life Church and continuing donations and fund raising by the Roscoe PTO.
To see an image gallery of the past and future playground, click the left and right arrows below, or tap or click on the photo below.