Within the next year, funding might be sought for an “all-inclusive” playground for Dennis H. Rinderer Park.
Director of Parks and Recreation Mark Rosen said the playground, which is just in the concept stages, will encompass part of the large, open area in the middle of the park, located on Veterans Honor Parkway on the east side of the city. Because the whole park is designed to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, the playground equipment will allow disabled children to access every feature, according to Rosen. He said he envisions a playground that is linked by paths. He hopes the paths will be surrounded with all kinds of greenery, so children feel like they are walking through a jungle to a hidden gem.
Rosen said that the playground will go well with the park’s newest feature, an exercise station located at the northeast corner of the park. The station has various forms of equipment, which Rosen said parents can use to work out while watching their kids play in the park.
The development of Rinderer Park was started in 2014. The park was named for Dennis Rinderer, who was an instrumental player for the city of Highland in acquiring the land for Veterans Honor Parkway.
Rosen said that the park is a work in progress, but is coming along just fine. As for an overall completion date, the park is a work in progress and there is no specific date in mind.
Rosen said that the park is a great example of community involvement. Many of the features of the park have come from organizations within the community.
“We are very fortunate with so much community involvement at our parks,” Rosen said.
The fitness equipment was gifted to the city through HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland and was installed by The Korte Company’s Diversified Operations Group. Bruce Moore of Bruce Concrete out of Granite City also contributed to the project though the donation of concrete equipment and personnel.
Six unique fitness features including a double leg press, sit up bench, body-pull, arm-walk, push-off and a plyometric jump set provide park visitors with a wide assortment of fitness activities. The equipment is designed for people of all fitness levels by Outdoor Fitness Inc., a Colorado-based company which specializes in outdoor fitness equipment.
The Highland Jaycees spearheaded funding for the dog park, located on the southern side of the park. Matt Stallard, the chapter president, said the Jaycees are hoping to have the project finished by next year.
“So far, the community seems to really appreciate what we are doing, and the park will only continue to get better as we keep progressing with our project,” Stallard said.
The dog park currently has separate large- and small-dog fenced sections and dog water fountains. The initial phases of the project included setting up fences to separate the two sides.
Right now, Stallard said the Jaycees are working to set up agility training equipment. Both sections will include a rover jump over, stepping paws, a grooming table, a doggie crawl and a hoop jump. The large-dog section will have a king of the hill, while the small-dog section will have weave posts and a dog walk.
The Jaycees are working with the city to find a time to assemble the equipment. After the equipment is set up, Stallard said all the only piece left will be the raising of a pavilion to provide shade for dog owners.
“We are happy with how things have been progressing,” Stallard said.
Stallard said that the Jaycees are always a accepting donations for the dog park to help make it better. He also encourages young people willing to help with this and other projects to become a Highland Jaycee.
Another example of community involvement includes the Rotary pavilion, given to the park from the Highland Rotary Club. Rosen said that the club paired with some University of Southern Illinois Edwardsville students to build the awning over a weekend. The pavilion was damaged in a recent storm, but plans are to fix it.
Other park amenities include bathrooms, drinking fountains, a walking trail that circles the park and wounded soldier parking spaces.
Rosen said that the Highland Area Community Foundation has a pass-through account for the Parks and Recreation Department for anyone wishing to contribute to the recreational development of Highland.
A memorial to veterans
Rinder Park is designed to be a memorial to Highland veterans.
“The other obvious thing that really draws people are the kiosks that we have that honor the veterans that were killed in action,” Rosen said.
A memorial wall will also be raised at the park and dedicated on Veterans Day 2017. The American Legion Lee Iten Post 430 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5694 have been working with the city to get the wall built.
“Overall, I think it is just a great tribute to our veterans and those who have served and obviously have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Rosen said. “We just hope that people treat it with respect and keep using it.”