New playground slated for Welles Park

Lincoln Square's 98-year-old Welles Park may soon get a new playground.

The recreation area near the corner of Western and Montrose is well overdue for a makeover. The play area, built in the early 1980s, is paved with wood chips and often has to shut down for a few days after it rains. Slides, swings, and other play devises are rusting, have chipped paint, and worn wood.

"Equipment is just subpar. It is very outdated," says Eileen Palmer, a volunteer with Friends of Welles Park Play Lot.

The group is a sub-committee of the park's Advisory Council, and is helping raise money for the play lot.

The new playground will be accessible to people with disabilities, and will also feature new landscaping and a rubberized play surface.

Toddlers and older children will have separate sections of the lot, with age-appropriate equipment.

The new lot will be located on Sunnyside and Western, just west of the field house. The old lot will remain until
construction is completed in about eight months.

The Chicago Park District is paying for $470,000 in renovations. The play lot group is seeking to raise an additional $330,000.

The play lot group hosted four performances by Midnight Circus  in the park, which brought in $20,000. Another circus performance is planned for September.

Park backers have also established a program that allows supporters to purchase commemorative bricks. The bricks will line the entrance way to the new playground. Donors may have their names or company names inscribed on the brick. Brick prices are $120, $220, $500, and $1000.

"It allows parents who can't afford to donate more than 120 dollars an opportunity to still get their names in the park and be a part of the fundraising efforts," says Palmer.

To get involved in the Friends of Wells Park Play Lot efforts or make a donation, visit the group's website.