ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — On Saturday, the Rockford Park District celebrated the renovated Oxford Park, at 2420 Oxford Street in the Edgewater neighborhood, and the newly christened John Beck Memorial Playground.

Beck was a longtime Rockford Park District employee and city alderman who passed away in 2020.

“John Beck did live in this neighborhood. He was our alderman. He was our neighbor and Edgewater Neighborhood Association president at the time of his passing. He was super involved in this neighborhood,” said Cassie Pike, Edgewater Neighborhood Association board member.

The Park District’s Kellie Olivencia said Beck, who was disabled, championed a fully accessible park. The new $345,000 investment supplied a unitary playground surface that ensures consistent Americans with Disabilities Act access and is designed for children ages 2 to 12.

“It’s great to see all the kids playing and to have this opportunity to remember John at this park, which is super inclusive,” Olivencia said. “This is the first park within the Park District where we have a communication board to help those individuals who are non-verbal.”

Pike says the playground is a huge addition to the 12th Ward neighborhood and it is only the beginning.

“We’re looking to do a splash pad. We’re looking to have som accessible sidewalks around the parks, that you can access on-site. We want to do a picnic shelter.”

The neighborhood association is still raising money for the splash pad and other amentities.