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Peoria’s Tricentennial Playground set to be replaced

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PEORIA (WEEK) -- A beloved wooden playground in Peoria's East Bluff neighborhood is on track to be replaced.

Tricentennial Playground has been around for around 30 years, becoming a go-to spot for many families in the area. But the Peoria Park District says it's nearing the end of its lifespan.

Executive Director Emily Cahill says maintaining or rebuilding the aging wooden structure has become too costly. So the district is now set to move forward with demolishing it and building anew.

"I understand the love that people have for the Tricentennial Playground, but it is time for us to replace it with something that is safer, more modern, more accessible," Cahill said.

Although the structures are showing signs of age and wear, parents say it is still a respected and cherished part of the community.

Mariah Aberle played at Tricentennial Playground as a kid and now brings her own children to the park.

"It was like a little bit of a gut-punch at first," Aberle said. "You were like 'Uh, no! That's my playground.' Like I played there. My kids are playing here. Like it's that nostalgia."

Elizabeth Donaldson grew up in Rockford and says she will look back fondly on the playground.

"I just like the size of it, and it's kind of nostalgic because I remember playing in a playground like this when I was growing up," Donaldson said.

Both of these moms say they do understand the need for a new playground, and they say they are hoping for things like more accessibility and better sightlines in the new playground.

The park district says a modern playground will be safer for kids of all abilities.

25 News: "When you build the new playground, how do you make sure it retains that uniqueness to it?"

Cahill: "A lot of playgrounds today are kind of cookie-cutter. We want to make sure we identify elements and find ways to honor the past and the long history of the Tricentennial Playground, whether that's with sightlines, or structure shape or color."

The ideas for the new playground go to the board Wednesday. The total cost of the project is estimated to be around $750,000. Construction could start next year.

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Alex Gaul

Alex Gaul joined WEEK 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC in January 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist. He formerly worked for KPNX-TV and KAET-TV, both in Phoenix, Arizona. The Illinois-native is an alum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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