Equipment removed at two Pekin playgrounds, Park District says there will be upgrades

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PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — Two Pekin Park District playgrounds were removed in December, leaving some neighbors and kids with no where to play.

“Our grandkids when they come to visit they’d like to, they’d have to go across the street to see the playground,” said neighbor Jacqueline Sharpe.

Park district Executive Director Cameron Bettin said it’s part of a plan to upgrade equipment at Kiwanis North Park and Southside Businesses Association Park. He said the swings at Kiwanis North will stick around.

“Those playgrounds are 15 years plus old, so they don’t meet safety guidelines anymore, or they didn’t because they’re gone now,” said Bettin.

Bettin said the playgrounds are being replaced due to safety concerns and said they’re hoping to install newer and better equipment later this year.

“We didn’t want to leave the equipment up and go through the process and then, you know, have something possibly happen,” said Bettin.

Sharpe said she noticed changes last week at Kiwanis North. She said she thought it was permanent until a WMBD Crew told her the district’s plans to replace it.

“I’m glad they are. Some of them are getting quite old and they’re not safe for kids to be on, so it’s good, it’s a good place for our tax money to go,” said Sharpe.

On the new playgrounds, she said her grandkids would love to have more activities.

“When you get little kids, they’re wanting to climb on everything, that’s good for them to climb over there instead of the kitchen cabinets,” said Sharpe.

It’s the kind of feedback Bettin said the district is looking for before drafting new park plans. He said the district is planning to survey neighbors to see the needs for those playgrounds in the future, but he doesn’t know when the survey will be sent out.

“Our goal is to try to get something new out there sometime this year. We don’t really have a timeframe yet,” said Bettin.

He believes the wait for the new playgrounds will be worth it.

“They’re getting a brand new playground, something that’s safer, something that has new equipment, state of the art,” said Bettin.

In the meantime, he said people can enjoy other nearby parks and playgrounds.

He said people will also see upgrades at Mineral Springs Park and said a newer and more accessible playground is coming this year thanks in part to a state grant program.

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