Cooper Park build continues through the weekend

Crews stay hard at work to get the playground completed on time

ROCHELLE -- Volunteers continued working hard all weekend on the Kids Ground rebuild at Cooper Park as the completion date of Tuesday, June 25 approaches. 


Work completed on Saturday focused on finishing the construction of the main structure, decking all of the ramps and stairs and installing some of the amenities. Crews finished placing all of the poles and fence posts and then began work on the main features of the playground.


“We are working on the slide, we have the fire department fire pole installed and were assembling all of the rope climbs. So, it is starting to look like a playground,” said jackee Ohlinger, park district executive director.


As work continues and the playground is beginning to take shape, volunteers are very excited to see the final product. When the playground is finished it will be something everyone in the community can take pride in.


“We love seeing that our town will have something cool that other towns have. We see these in other places but we don’t see this in our town” added Michelle Hardcastle, a local resident and volunteer. “We have the condensed version of what big towns have, and now this is something other towns can look at and say, ‘I want that big playground like Rochelle has.’”


Since construction on the playground began, it has been a constant battle against the rain. Due to Saturday night’s rain, crews were working extra hard Sunday morning to cover lower areas of the playground and place gravel down so they weren’t forced to work in the mud. Even though the weather has been a bit of a struggle workers are pleased with the progress.


“I think the weather has been a challenge but in the grand scheme of things we have been very lucky. Compared to what farmers and other people are dealing with we have been pretty fortunate to get some sloppy and challenging, but doable weather,” explained Tim Hayden, park board president.


Since the build has been going on for multiple days volunteers are starting to better understand the process and skills necessary for the build. While this has helped with the efficiency of the build, the project leaders are still in need of new helpers since the constant work is starting to take a toll on repeat volunteers.


“The physical labor is the hardest part, it is kind of wearing on a lot of people because lots of people are here day in and day out and it just get tiring after a while,” said Maddie Ohlinger, a local resident and volunteer.


Volunteers attending every day of the build have been giving it their all, but are starting to get worn out. Park officials and crew members are hopeful that having new people volunteer will give the workers the boost they need to push through to the end.


“I have to say that there are 10-15 hardcore volunteers that have been here from start to finish every day and it is starting to drain on them. So, to see some new faces will certainly re-energize us and give us a little bit of extra energy,” expressed Ohlinger.


Even though the process has been a lot of work and a battle against the weather, the people involved said it was a rewarding experience they are grateful to have been a part of.


“I am so happy that I got to be part of something like this, I never in a million years would have thought that I would do something like this and say I built a park,” said Michelle Hardcastle


Once the build is completed a celebration event is being planned on Tuesday night. The park district and everyone involved in the build is hoping the community will come out to show support and bring their kids to try out the new equipment


“I hope everyone comes on Tuesday at about 5 p.m. we are having a ribbon cutting, were going to open it up to the kids and we are going to have some face painting. It will a real celebration of the completion of this project,” said Ohlinger


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