AMBUCS playground makeover campaign starts

A fundraising campaign has started to update the AMBUCS Playground for Everyone for its 20th anniversary in 2021.

DANVILLE – With the AMBUCS Playground for Everyone approaching its 20th year of play for families at Winter Park, it’s time for a little makeover and updating.

Danville AMBUCS announced this week a campaign has started, as occurred in the late 1990s prior to the universally accessible playground opening in July 2001, to raise $110,000 to add some new features and bring the playground back to its original glory.

According to an AMBUCS press release, the Playground for Everyone has been such a popular destination for families, schools, civic groups and others, but it’s beginning to look a little tired.

The collaboration between the City of Danville and Danville AMBUCS during the past 18 years has resulted in the investment of more than $90,000 to update current equipment and add new.

But as with an outdoor playground, usage over time and the weather takes its toll.

As the 20th anniversary of the playground approaches, and to ensure that the playground remains a viable community resource for many years, Danville AMBUCS is conducting a community-wide fundraising campaign to refresh the playground.

They have dubbed the project AMBUCS Playground for Everyone 2.0.

The budget for the project is $110,000. Danville AMBUCS has committed $25,000 to it and has already received two $10,000 pledges. AMBUCS is seeking gifts from foundations, businesses, community groups and individuals for the remaining money needed.

The City of Danville will once again be a partner in providing in-kind services to help facilitate the makeover.

“That was sort of our game plan all along, to have a 20th year grand reopening,” said Bill Fulton, AMBUCS co-chairman of the project.

Some of the work likely could start next summer. Realistically, all the changes would have the playground ready for the reopening in the anniversary year of 2021, Fulton said.

Fulton said it took two years, starting in 1999, to put everything together for the 2001 playground opening.

The makeover plans for the playground include:

• Incorporate a new NU-Edge X Tower, by Little Tikes, to the existing school-age structure that will provide additional play opportunities and will include an 8’ high curved slide.

• Replace worn and faded play panels to give the playground a fresh look.

• Resurface the pour-in-place rubberized surfacing by adding a new topcoat to the surface.

• Replace worn benches.

• Powder coat the existing railings that are faded to give it a like new appearance and extend the life of the play structures.

Fulton said the big tower piece of equipment has a lot of different things for kids to do, including sliding down the “nice winding slide.”

He said there will be some monkey bars taken out at the existing playground to make room for the tower, but there are monkey bars elsewhere at the playground so nothing is being lost with the new tower and slide.

“It will add some play value and equipment on it,” he said.

He also said about replacing play panels, benches, surfacing and some railings, they’ve been worn down through usage.

Fulton said they’ve written some grants and reached out to some businesses and individuals already to help with funding.

“It’s sort of what we did last time. We’re not under any time pressure to get it open next summer,” he said.

If everything happens faster than expected, it could open next summer or next year, but their goal is to certainly have it open in 2021 for the playground’s 20th anniversary.

Fulton said there will be times the playground will have to be closed to bring in the new equipment and surfacing.

He recalls there were about 500 people in attendance at the original dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The AMBUCS Playground for Everyone has allowed children, regardless of their abilities, the opportunity to play at a playground to the highest level of their own ability.

In 2001, the playground was at the forefront of universally accessible playgrounds. When opened it was one of the first in Illinois to offer a playground that could truly serve all children regardless of their abilities.

“Danville AMBUCS’ passion to provide children and families of all abilities a safe, fun and challenging play space is a strong as it was in 2001. The community built the AMBUCS Playground for Everyone and with their help this project will be a success,” Fulton said.

Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. stated, “AMBUCS has been a wonderful community partner in providing universally accessible play areas throughout the City of Danville. We look forward to once again working with AMBUCS on this worthwhile project.”

Danville Parks Superintendent Steve Lane said the main component is a really tall slide.

“It’s a really cool piece of play equipment,” Lane said, adding that it will be a new centerpiece of the playground.

He too said there are a lot of railings that are original. They have held up really well, but the paint has faded.

Lane said of the rubbery fall surface, “that doesn’t last forever.”

“We’ve done it once and it’s time to do it again,” Lane added about the playground redo.

Those interested in providing a gift may contact Bill Fulton at 217-474-2455. Gifts may be sent to Danville AMBUCS, PO Box 266, Danville, IL 61832.

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