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University Park gets free playground

Updated: August 28, 2012 6:15AM



About 300 people will be at a park in University Park on Saturday, helping build a playground that is not costing the village a penny.

The $78,000 playground will be built in Craig Park, courtesy of a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois through Kaboom!, a national nonprofit recreation organization.

University Park director of parks and recreation Keely Lewis-Childress learned of the grant opportunity last year.

“I applied in September and I called them every week. We emailed them every week. In February, they said, ‘Maybe.’ Then we did a conference call with community residents and the mayor,” Lewis-Childress said Thursday.

What’s that old saying about the squeaky wheel getting the grease?

“Well, you’ve got to be persistent,” Lewis-Childress said with a laugh.

Her persistence paid off.

About 30 volunteers on Thursday were busy preparing the playground site at 631 Sandra Drive. The old playground was removed about two weeks ago.

At 8 a.m. Saturday, work will begin on installation of the purple, orange and lime-green playground equipment with slides, monkey bars, mini-basketball nets, a small stage and other child-friendly attractions, Lewis-Childress said.

She’s looking for more volunteers and is offering refreshments in exchange for hard work.

“The more the merrier. If you drive past here, I’ll flag you down and put you to work,” she said.

Volunteers also were expected Friday for final preparations.

Danielle Trezek, the Kaboom project manager, said this will be the 2,133rd playground erected by the company, and the 14th in Illinois.

“It’s going to be a big upgrade for the park,” she said.

The previous playground set, made from wood, was starting to show its age, Lewis-Childress said.

Kaboom! surveyed children for what they wanted in a new playground, Trezek said. The park is designed for use by children ages 2 through 12, she said.



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