VALPARAISO | The city's Parks Department is ready to install the first of its trailhead signs along with another sign at the entrance to Foundation Meadows Park.
Parks Director John Seibert told the park board Tuesday the signs are square columns with a stone facing that matches the park's comfort station. The entrance will have a one-column style with signs to note the park's features, including the trailhead, playground, headquarters and service memorial.
Seibert said not many people know about the service memorial, which honors military, emergency responders and others who have served the city and the country. They can see the Butterfly Meadows playground from the road, but other park features aren't as obvious.
The trailhead marker will have two columns with a sign connecting them to show the city's trail system and other information about the parks. The signs will cost $5,000 and $10,000, respectively, and will be paid for with money from Porter Health Systems as part of the naming rights for the Central Park Plaza amphitheater.
A trailhead sign at Central Park Plaza also will be paid for from those funds, but others, including one at ValPlayso, will have to be funded from other sources.
Seibert said a resident already has donated a park bench for the Foundation Meadows trailhead, and a program to get sponsors for benches at the other trailheads is being planned similar to the one that provided benches for the downtown park.
The design of the signs is based on the proposed trail markers for the Dunes Kankakee Trail and for the city's beautification plan for the U.S. 30 corridor. The Foundation Meadows signs will be completed this fall, and the one at ValPlayso is expected to be completed in 2014 along with the overall renovation of that park's equipment.
Seibert said the city is seeking proposals for a playground designer for ValPlayso. A decision on the designer will be made by October. The designer will use the overall park master plan and will work with residents, especially children, on the features to be included in the park.
Some of the existing features will be kept "like a historic site," such as the handprints wall, he said. The new equipment will take advantage of safety improvements since ValPlayso was built 20 years ago, and the new generation of children will choose the elements the way the last generation did.
Fundraising for the renovation was started with the recent Party in the Park, which raised about $30,000 toward the expected $500,000 cost of the project. The goal is to raise the rest in time to build the playground in the fall of 2014.