For more than a decade Ayres has been working with the Lincoln Park Conservancy, beginning with master planning. The first master plan prepared for the 49.5-acre North Pond Nature Sanctuary was completed in 2013. This is the portion of Lincoln Park bordered by North Lakeview Avenue on the west, Cannon Drive on the east, and Fullerton Avenue on the south. Phase 1 of this master plan called for replacing the park’s existing and aged playground at the pond’s north end.
Design of the new Sunshine Playscape began in 2016, and the new playground opened in the fall of 2019. The new $1.5 million playground combines traditional and nature play elements in a natural setting. The concept for the new playground was based on the region’s native ecology. Footprints from native fauna track through the playground’s sidewalk. Unique play features include a real tree laid on its side as a climbing structure, a rock wall and hillside slides, and willow tunnels.
The second phase of work recommended in the master plan is to dredge and redesign North Pond. Design of the dredge is the next task scheduled, along with an update to the master plan.