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MOM ON A MISSION: Park renovation sparks revitalization

December 10, 2012

Post & Mail photo / Christie Barkley South Whitley’s town park now boasts a new playground geared to give children both active and imaginative opportunities. Pictured is one of the streets in Doodlebug Village, the first of two playground renovation phases.

SOUTH WHITLEY — Katey Till, of South Whitley, has been on task to see the South Whitley Town Park is a “lasting treasure for children now and in the future.”

Just a typical mom, Till has changed the face of the town she lives in by tackling a project costing in excess of $100,000.
“I guess I was feeling ambitious,”said Till.

In 2007, Till and a fellow South Whitley mother, Colleen French, looked at the existing playground area located behind the town hall and decided new playground equipment was needed both for their children as well as others.

“We sat there one day and thought the park needed help,” Till said. “We didn’t even have a park board at the time. That was the first thing we had to do.” And thus the South Whitley Park Board was formed.

Three years later, in the fall of 2010, the first phase was complete. Doodlebug Village, a park designed for children two- to five-years old, took over for the old park that existed for more than 40 years.

Doodlebug Village was completed just as the town’s plan commission started thinking about revitalization. Meetings have been held to brainstorm with town’s people on what other changes can take place to better South Whitley.

Doodlebug Village was the first of its kind. The play area combines active, physical movement as well as imaginative play. Combining slides with make-believe stations, children at Doodlebug Village get the opportunity to exercise both their bodies and their minds.

Most of the concept and equipment for Doodlebug Village was customized by Till, French and Grounds for Play, a company specializing in playground equipment.

In fact, one of the items, the farmer’s market stand, was made special for the South Whitley project. It was such a favorite among the Grounds for Play company that it became an item they now offer to playgrounds across the country.

Doodlebug Village will see some finishing touches in the next year. There is a plan to landscape the area with trees and bushes as well as removing some of the pea gravel to eliminate an overflow on the sidewalk and neighboring tennis courts.

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