A legacy park – better with age
Hessel Park in Champaign, Illinois, recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Originally donated to the City by local real-estate developer J.F. Hessel and formally dedicated in 1918, Hessel Park has evolved from a pastoral swath of farm fields into a wooded and frequently-visited green space—one of Champaign’s most beloved. To celebrate a strong centennial, the park district decided to usher in a new era of recreation by building a new community splash pad to replace the existing, deteriorating pad and by improving other park amenities.
Connections and convenience
The splash pad project was part of a broader overall plan to also improve a weathered park walkway and rebuild outdated restrooms to accompany the installation of a playground a few years back. This second phase of the project expanded and reinvented the park’s aquatic footprint and built a new concrete trail that meanders from the large pavilion at the north end of the park to the reconstructed restrooms at the south end. The new restrooms serve a dual purpose, sharing a wall with a storage and maintenance room which houses upgraded 4-inch water service and sanitary connections. This maintenance room allows easy access to the splash pad controls, replacing the more cumbersome in-ground vault controls of the former pad design.
Accessible fun for years to come
Work included demolition of the existing walkways, restrooms and splash pad, along with laying down a new six-foot-wide by approximately 650-foot-long trail way. The trail is fully ADA accessible and connects all the main features of the park, making it easy for visitors to intermingle and experience the various attractions.
The new concrete splash pad expands to more than twice the size of the original, now nearly 3,900 square feet, with improved drainage and 37 engaging water features with flower, butterfly, leaf and dragonfly motifs. Hessel Park may be 100 years old, but it seems to be looking younger by the day, leaving visitors and guests feeling the same.