WEST ROGERS PARK — Children and adults alike romped through the Indian Boundary Park Nature Play Center, which opened Thursday in the park's former zoo.
"It's just dynamite — something to be proud of," resident Dan Miller said as he snapped photos at the park's opening day.
In the northwest section of Indian Boundary Park, gone are the few goats, chickens and ducks that once occupied the space.
Now, native plants and meandering concrete pathways have replaced the animal pens. The zoo's old swan huts have been partially transformed into toy houses for children to play inside, a big hit with neighborhood children on Thursday.
The old aviary has been transformed into an enclosed pavilion, its fencing wrapped in ivy vines.
The former zoo building, which can be reserved for community events, has new flooring, exposed brick walls, an insulated roof covered with beadboard paneling and a glass garage-style door that opens into the new park.
"I think it's much more useful to the community," said resident Beth Martin, who worked with other community members to have the former zoo space rebuilt.
The park's landscaping was designed by landscape architect Erich Sprague of the Chicago Park District. It was his first project with the district and he won the praise Thursday of Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th), Mayor Rahm Emanuel and park district CEO Michael Kelly.
"This is a jewel," Emanuel said of Indian Boundary, at 2500 W. Lunt Ave. "When they say we're a city in the garden, they're talking about this park right here."
Kelly said Indian Boundary "may be the nicest park" out of all 600 parks in the city.
"Indian Boundary Park has been a beloved fixture of the 50th Ward for nearly a century," said Silverstein. "I am very pleased to have worked with the community to remodel this space and turn it into an exciting new installation that will engage and delight our children for many more years to come."
The park's spray pool had also been upgraded. Both children and adults cooled off in the mist Thursday.
The project, both the nature play center and the spray pool, cost $570,000, according to the mayor's office.
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