The Park District of Oak Park is looking to put exercise equipment on the east half of Randolph Park – and a retirement community and township agency have been collecting money to help the project along.
The equipment is part of the most recent update of the Randolph Park Master Plan and came in response to feedback from seniors at the nearby Oak Park Arms, who already used the park on the regular basis. The exercise equipment is designed for people of "all levels of physical ability," including senior citizens.
The improvements will also include new "intergenerational" playground equipment for families and a new picnic area in the west half of the park, as well as some minor improvements.
While the park district has allocated some funds, they only cover about half of the budget. The funds raised by the foundation will be used to cover the costs of fitness equipment specifically.
The master plan shows that the fitness equipment will be located on two new fitness stations in the east half of Randolph. The equipment will include a chest/back press machine, an elliptical, a cardio stepper, a squat press and a machine for ab crunches and leg lifts, as well as equipment that helps visitors do push-ups and sit-ups.
The master plan also calls for the new playground equipment that's specifically designed for kids to play together with their parents and others. That includes a two-seat "friendship swing," a rotating spinner and a two-person cardio walker. A photo used to illustrate the last piece specifically shows an elementary school-age child and a senior citizen using it together.
Diane Stanke, the park district's director of marketing, told Wednesday Journal that both the outdoor fitness equipment and the intergenerational playground equipment will be a first for their park system.
The park district held a community meeting on the proposed improvements on April 4, 2018. It was approved effective June 2018. Stanke said that all of the renovations will cost a total of $161,000,
"The cost specifically for the intergenerational play equipment is approximately $12,000 and the cost of the fitness equipment is approximately $57,000," she said.
According to the master plan, the rest of the money would go toward other improvements, such as relocation of the existing playground's frog statues, a new picnic area in the west half of the park, relocation of benches in the east half, new plantings and other minor improvements.
Stanke said that the park district committed $75,000 out of its capital budget to cover the cost.
On Feb. 9, Oak Park Arms retirement community, which offers both independent living and assisted living units for seniors, teamed up with Park District of Oak Park and Senior Services of Oak Park River Forest Townships to raise funds to specifically cover the costs of the fitness equipment.
Stanke said that the funds would go to Parks Foundation of Oak Park, but it will be earmarked for Randolph Park improvements.
In a statement, Heather Lindstrom, Oak Park Arms' director of marketing, said the retirement community supported the project because it was a great asset not just for their clients, but to Oak Park as a whole.
"We are excited to support the opportunity for the seniors in our community and those in the greater Oak Park community," she said. "Our residents often go to Randolph Park, so the outdoor equipment will be an added bonus."
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