Meadowbrook Playground Planning

One Final Prairie Play Play Date February 17 

Urbana Park District is building the new playground in 2024. But before construction started, the park district held one final play date at Meadowbrook Park's Prairie Play on Saturday, February 17, 2024.

On March 1st and 2nd, Park District staff, with the help of volunteers, returned over 300 pavers to former donors that registered for pickup.  We thank their support and encourage help to build the new playground.


Help Build the Playground


Click here for a link to the Urbana Park District Foundation's website to donate to the project.

History of the Playground Project



For decades the Prairie Play playground at Meadowbrook Park has drawn visitors from around the region due to its unique aesthetic and impressive size. Generations of children and families have made memories at the playground. Park district staff recognize the appreciation many community members have regarding the playground, and how hard it may be to see it replaced.

Built in 1995, the playground has been carefully maintained and therefore lived longer than most playgrounds; it is however, reaching the end of its usable life. The wood has been sealed every two years per manufacturer recommendations, and repairs continue to be made where possible. Repairs have included replacement of decking, support joists, hand rails, and rebuilding specific components such as the sandbox. However, some things are not able to be repaired or replaced. Reasons for this have included replacement parts no longer being available, components no longer meeting current playground standards, and inability to endure the high use of the playground, such as some rubber components.

With the life of the playground structure deteriorating due to the nature of the wood material, as well as the opportunities of advancements in accessibility, play value, inclusion, materiality and design, the playground will be replaced in 2024.  The community engagement process took place between October 2021 and April 2022, where park district staff sought to create a participatory playground design process where more users were encouraged to provide input and ensure the new playground is even more enchanting.

In March of 2023, the Urbana Park District received a $550,000 Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant to help fund the project!

Playground Master Planning

The Urbana Park District has been working with Upland Design Ltd., a firm which leads many destination playground and park planning processes in Illinois, engages communities in innovative and exciting ways, and understands the industry trends and best practices. The master plan process took place over 9  months with a plethora of public input opportunities guided by both the consultant and park district staff. Construction of the new playground and surrounding amenities is planned for 2024.

Past Community Input and Planning

Email Keenan Portis, Park Planner, at kjportis@UrbanaParks.Org with questions or to get your concrete paver back. Please do not remove pavers on your own.

Community Input Round 1

Click here to view survey 1 results.  Survey 1 in October of 2021 outlined how community members would like the next playground to feel, what types of amenities it should include, general thoughts, and more.  There were 227 responses.

Community Input Round 2

Click here to view survey 2 results.  Survey 2 in December of 2021 showed a variety of inspiration images from balance and climbing to swinging and sliding, different playground structures and aesthetics, as well as site amenities like shade and benches.  Respondents were asked to rank and rate various images to better gauge what the community is looking for.  This survey had 612 responses.

December 7, 5:30-6:30 - virtual public meeting. Click here to view the meeting.

In December, park district staff also visited after school programs where kids voted on playground pieces, took the survey on iPads, drew their ideal playground, and talked with park district staff.  Over 175 kids shared their thoughts!

Community Input Round 3

Click here to view survey 3 results.  Survey 3 in April of 2022 gathered input on three full concept designs which were developed directly from the results for survey 2.  The three concepts (A: Animal Explorations, B: Pollinators at Play, and C: Treetop Adventures) are linked below.  Respondents were asked their preferences on themes, site layout plans, 2-5 age structures, 5-12 age structures, and accessibility and inclusion.  This survey had 470 responses.

  • Click here to view Playground Concept A
  • Click here to view Playground Concept B
  • Click here to view Playground Concept C

Virtual community meeting Thursday, April 7 - click here to view meeting.

In addition to the recorded virtual community meeting in April, park district staff also held four on-site open houses to display plans and talk with playground visitors.  Park district staff also joined after school and school's out programs around Urbana to again engage with kids directly.  163 students were reached directly through this.

Community Input Round 4

Click here for survey results.  Survey 4 in June of 2022 gathered input on playground color, preferred climbing net structure, and prioritizing independent play pieces.  Respondents also shared favorite aspects of the design.  This survey had 541 responses.

Click here to view preliminary master plan - June 2022

Click here to view public meeting slideshow

Community Input Meeting Recording:  View the meeting here

In addition to the recorded virtual community meeting in June, park district staff also held on-site open houses to display plans and talk with playground visitors.  Park district staff also joined camp programs and other events around Urbana to engage with 153 kids directly.


Meadowbrook Playground In the News:

State Grant will Help Urbana Park District Build the New Playground at Meadowbrook Park

Meadowbrook Park Replay | News-Gazette 

First Phase of Community Input Begins for Meadowbrook Park Playground Project | Urbana Park District

New Meadowbrook Park Playground Slated for 2023 |

Tom's #Mailbag, May 8, 2020 | Tom's Mailbag |

Playtime Nearly Over for Iconic Playground | News-Gazette