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A New Playground Is Coming To West Ridge’s Indian Boundary Park To Replace Iconic But Crumbling Wooden Castle

The park's iconic wooden playground has been a neighborhood gem for decades, but community members and leaders say it's due for replacement.

The wooden playground at Indian Boundary Park would be replaced under a new plan.
Shamus Toomey/Block Club Chicago
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WEST RIDGE — North Side community members and leaders are working to revamp Indian Boundary Park’s iconic, castle-themed playground, securing a $750,000 state grant for their efforts.

The sprawling playground — built entirely of wood — is a neighborhood landmark, said Leta Dally, Indian Boundary Park Advisory Council president.

But the playground has faced decades of physical wear and, like any wooden structure, it can be hard to repair and maintain as time passes, Dally said. That’s why the community is hoping to replace it, recreating the playground with upgraded facilities.

Cost estimates have ranged from $500,000-$1 million, Dally said.

Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) has been working with the Park District to advocate for the playground’s reconstruction and funding for the project. Residents have been calling her about it being worn down, and she reached out to state Sen. Ram Villivalam months ago, hoping to secure a grant, she said.

“It’s not a cookie-cutter playground. It’s very iconic, [but] it’s very old and starting to break down,” Silverstein said. “We want to get that replaced.”

Silverstein said she worked with the Park District for over a year and got Villivalam involved in the process.

“Indian Boundary is a cultural center,” she said. “They have so many wonderful activities at Indian Boundary. My kids used to play at the park. It’s really an important part of the community.””

Villivalam helped get a $750,000 state grant for the playground project earlier this year with the help of state Sen. Laura Fine.

“As a young parent … I certainly see the value in reinvesting in this type of project and this type of park because it’s a place where families can gather, where youth can play together and it really does bring about a sense of community,” Villivalam said.

Credit: Shamus Toomey/Block Club Chicago
The wooden playground at Indian Boundary Park would be replaced under a new plan.

While the grant is a “first huge step” toward the playground’s restoration efforts, local leaders are still gathering community feedback until the funding is released — which could take one or two years, Villavalam said.

The Indian Boundary Park Advisory Council is collecting feedback to decide how the structure should be rebuilt through an online survey. Silverstein said the plan is to replace the playground with something similar, although community feedback will be factored into the final design.

The park’s advisory council also plans on holding community meetings about the initiative this summer.

“I think that it’s just important for people to remember to be involved with the Park District on whatever the new playground is going to be and hopefully we will have as wonderful a playground, if not a better playground, as a result,” Dally said.

It will be difficult to lose the old castle playground, its fans said.

Community members fundraised in the ’80s to build the castle, and it’s gained national attention, Dally said.

“It’s really funny, but when you Google Indian Boundary Park you’ll see mentions of the playground as one of the most iconic playgrounds,” Dally said. “It’s all wooden and it doesn’t have the colorful plastic things that playgrounds have today.

“Keeping with the architecture of the whole park, with little castle-like areas and little places to hide, it’s really very unusual. And it just fits in so well with the park.”

Credit: Shamus Toomey/Block Club Chicago
The wooden playground at Indian Boundary Park would be replaced under a new plan.
Credit: Shamus Toomey/Block Club Chicago
The wooden playground at Indian Boundary Park would be replaced under a new plan.
Credit: Shamus Toomey/Block Club Chicago
The wooden playground at Indian Boundary Park would be replaced under a new plan.
Credit: Shamus Toomey/Block Club Chicago
The wooden playground at Indian Boundary Park would be replaced under a new plan.
Credit: Shamus Toomey/Block Club Chicago
The wooden playground at Indian Boundary Park would be replaced under a new plan.

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