A long-awaited redo of Vandenburg Heights Park broke ground last week with a design that will attract nearby residents, and kids with accessibility challenges.

The park will get a fully inclusive and accessible playground, a shelter, new picnic tables and benches, and free public wi-fi access. The basketball court will also be reconstructed.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of November, depending on the weather.

Residents and city officials who participated in the design process hope the changes will revitalize the park into a community gathering space.

Vandenburg Heights resident Teran Peterson, a Neighborhood Navigator and Dane County Board Supervisor, took part in the citizen committee to gather input on the park design. She said the basketball court reconstruction is the most sought-after new feature.

“That will be extremely important to the people who live here,” Peterson said at the Oct. 9 Vandenburg Heights Park groundbreaking ceremony.

Peterson said the park is usually the central place for organizations that hold events in the neighborhood, such as the YMCA, mobile lunch program, as well as the place for the Juneteenth Day celebrations.

“This is an essential place for the community to gather and I am excited to see what the new park will bring,” Peterson said.

A committee of residents was formed to review the park design and get feedback from residents.

Neighborhood Navigator Katrina Collins, a committee member, said new playground equipment was added to the design after talking with kids.

“We asked kids what they wanted to see and got their input and shared it with the people that it needed to go to,” Collins said.

The park on Vandenburg Street hasn’t seen any major improvement since the early 1990s, said Kristin Grissom, City of Sun Prairie Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director.

Vandenburg Heights Park was already slated to get playground equipment replaced but a Community Development Block Grant Funding boosted the project to include the other amenities and the fully accessible and inclusive playground. The project is expected to cost around $367,000.

Kids in wheelchairs and others with accessibility challenges can use the playground equipment. There will also be a rubberized playground surface and improved paved access throughout the park.

Sun Prairie resident Bobby Finn, a citizen committee member, offered his feedback on the park design.

“I am excited about the overall accessibility and inclusion design and what it will bring to the Vandenburg community and those who need wheelchair access,” Finn said.

City of Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser spoke at the Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony, thanking everyone who participated in the project.

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