From Illinois Business Journal news services
The city of Wildwood, Mo., recently opened The Grove, the first phase of its new 66-acre Wildwood Community Park in west St. Louis County on State Route 100, just west of State Route 109.
Designed by Oates Associates, headquartered in Collinsville, The Grove is a seven-acre natural play area that blends modern amenities with natural elements. Construction began in 2014 and was completed in late August.
Oates Associates developed the master plan for Wildwood Community Park in 2010, from input obtained from residents, and provided architectural, civil engineering, structural engineering, survey and construction phase services for The Grove. They designed the area as an active play space balanced with more passive amenities that allow visitors to reflect upon the natural environment.
“Oates Associates helped us meet our goal of creating a diverse and memorable space for our avid recreational community, while protecting the unique topography of the land,” Wildwood Mayor Timothy Woerther said.
The Grove includes Parkway Drive and parking areas, bioswales, trails, an exercise area, a pavilion, picnic areas, gardens, a creek crossing and an all-inclusive natural playground. A dog park, located in a woodland area, offers canine agility elements.
“Wildwood understands that people want to connect with nature and that children in particular need to explore, which often means getting their clothes wet and their hands dirty,” said Tom Cissell, PE, a project manager at Oates Associates.
Natural play space is intentionally designed to integrate natural components into a place for structured and unstructured play and learning, according to Cissell.
“A ladder has one way to the top,” said Cissell. “A real rock climbing ledge has dozens of ways to the top.”
The park’s natural play elements include rock walls and ledges, a teepee, log posts and piles, climbing structures, a nature loom, rope nets, boardwalks and a 20-foot tower.
Wildwood hired Oates Associates in 2010 to create a conceptual plan for the park based on a public participation process, which showed that residents preferred trails, sledding hills, natural playgrounds and open play lawn areas over manufactured play systems and sports facilities, which are available in other local parks. The city will continue to develop the Wildwood Community Park in phases over the next five to 10 years as funding becomes available.
Oates provides master planning, architecture, civil engineering, structural engineering, transportation planning, survey and construction phase services to communities, corporations, institutions and public agencies throughout the Midwest. Headquartered in Collinsville, Oates recently expanded its St. Louis office and opened an office in Belleville.