Playground slated for summer finish

By Sean Noble

Poor weather halted construction of a new playground at the NIU School of Nursing last semester and last week but work will be completed by summer, DeKalb Park District Director David Emanuelson said.

Heavy rains and cold weather stopped park district workers soon after they began work on the playground last October, Emanuelson said. He said the weather postponed further work until this semester.

The new playground will replace the original playground, located on the nursing school grounds, which NIU planned to remove last semester.

Nearby residents protested the removal and presented NIU representatives with a petition for its retention signed by 44 Normal Road residents in September.

NIU announced in early October its decision to move the playground instead of removing it, in response to the protests, said Anne Kaplan, executive assistant to NIU President John LaTourette.

Kaplan said the new playground will be located in the southeast corner of the nursing school’s park, near the site of the original playground. She said NIU leased the land to the park district Dec. 3.

NIU purchased the nursing school grounds from the DeKalb School System last summer. The site, located at Normal Road and Ridge Drive, was formerly occupied by Robert’s Elementary School.

The park district is keeping four of the original eight playground equipment pieces for the new playground and is purchasing a new one, Emanuelson said. “We probably got better than half the equipment (to be used) from the old playground removed in October,” he said.

Park district workers who tried to resume work this week were greeted again with inclement weather—cold rains on Monday and snow on Tuesday, Emanuelson said.

“Just before the bad weather, we were able to get some concrete poured and some posts put in last Friday,” Emanuelson said.

“The playground is under construction now, and when it will be open depends on the weather and what other projects we’re working on,” he said. The small staff he has available to work on the playground will divide its time between building the new playground and other park district development projects, he said.

“We hope to have it completed by summer, by the time school is out,” he said.

Emanuelson said the area allowed for the new playground is “just under an acre.” He said, “We have to now identify the boundaries of our property based on the (lease) drawing.”

The park district work in October proceeded under a “verbal commitment with the university,” Emanuelson said.

He said one of the preparations involved in the initial equipment removal was notifying area utility companies to determine whether construction would injure underground cables.