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Nelson Park ropes course will open April 1

Ropes Course

DECATUR -- A high ropes course will available for use at Nelson Park next to Overlook Adventure Mini Golf by April 1.

Decatur Park District Director of Operations Ryan Raleigh announced the plan at Wednesday's Park Board meeting. He said construction will begin March 13.

"There's nothing like this in this area," Raleigh said. "I saw something like it when we took our kids to Wisconsin Dells, and there's also one in Iowa and at Indiana Beach. But it'll be new in this area."

The ropes course is a 35-foot, 9-inch tall structure with three levels that children and adults can use. Climbers are harnessed in and are locked in to one track that can go in multiple directions.

Jamie Gower, park district director of recreation and facilities, said staff was close to finalizing a fee structure that would be brought to the board at the March 15 meeting.

Raleigh said bids for the batting cages that will be next to the ropes course will also be ready for the next board meeting.

The ropes course, the batting cages and deluxe playground, as well as a new pavilion in Nelson Park by the dog park, will be paid for out of the 2015 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant that was delayed because of the state budget impasse. The grant is matching, with the state supplying $400,000 and the park district matching the $400,000 plus $197,830 from its capital fund.

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Partnerships returning

Macon Waves pedal boat rental, Tandemonium bicycle rental and Standup Paddle Boards & Kayaks will all be back starting this spring in partnerships with the park district.

Macon Waves, owned by David and Shirley Hardin, offers five-person pedal boats on Lake Decatur near the Beach House. Macon Waves will open Memorial Day weekend (May 26 to 28). The cost of rentals will be $12 for a half-hour and $15 for an hour.

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"It was phenomenal last year; we had great turnout," David Hardin said. "We fight the weather; people don't want to go if it's too hot or raining, but overall, it went great."

The Hardins also own Tandemonium, a tandem bicycle rental shop at Fairview Park south of the concession building at Pavilion No. 1. Anyone interested in renting a tandem, quadracycle, tricycle or bicycle should call (217) 422-2668.

Standing Paddle Boards & Kayaks, owned by Abi and Aaron McIntosh, opened the weekend after Labor Day last year and had just eight weeks of business, but were enthused by the response.

"We had people come out from Champaign and Springfield," Abi McIntosh said.

Standing Paddle, which operates out of the Snack Shack at Nelson Park, will reopen in May. It has standing paddle boards available for kids and adults for $15 for a half-hour, $25 per hour, $45 for a half-day or $65 for a full day. It also has one-person kayaks for $10 for a half-hour, $20 per hour, $40 for a half-day and $60 for a full day.

Abi McIntosh said they were looking into tandem kayaks -- a popular request.

All three businesses have Facebook pages for anyone looking for more information.

Train extension discussed

Raleigh said the park district is working with Chastain Professional Services on finalizing the Scovill Zoo train extension that would bring its route to the Children's Museum of Illinois.

Raleigh said the preferred route would go around the zoo on the lakefront and extend to the current Children's Museum parking lot, which would be moved south.

But Raleigh said that route will require more engineering. If it exceeds budget, mostly made up of the $2 million donated by the Howard Buffett Foundation, the park district would have to go with an alternative route.

Raleigh said the park district and Chastain would be meeting with surveyors this week and hoped to establish which route would be taken soon after. The train extension is scheduled to be finished by fall 2018.


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