The latest in our “Great Parks!” series, Prairie Path Park, was designed in cooperation with the Batavia Park District, Batavia School District, Batavia Youth Baseball and the Tri-Cities Soccer Association. Read on to learn more about this true “community” park!
Name and address/location of the park and what park system it belongs to:
Prairie Path Park is located at 813 Mark Twain Trails in Batavia, on a lot immediately south of Rotolo Middle School. It is part of the Batavia Park District but is one of the district’s “athletic parks” and was designed in cooperation with the Batavia School District, Batavia Youth Baseball and the Tri-Cities Soccer Association. In addition to the new playground (the focus of this article), the 15-acre site includes multiple soccer fields, two rentable picnic shelters, a baseball field, a skate park and water fountain.
Is the parking nearby?
Well … not really. I’d recommend taking a look at the map of 813 Mark Twain Trails in Batavia before heading out so you can understand how this park is orientated. We parked on Mark Twain Trails in front of residential homes and used the sidewalk and a path to walk our way back to the playground. Other people who were there on the day of our visit parked on Barkei Drive and walked across the field. (And parking on Barkei is preferred, according to the Batavia Park District.) Another option (outside of school hours) would be to park in the Rotolo parking lot and walk over to the playground, but that would be the longest walk of the options.
Can you describe the playground? Anything special it offers?
I learned of this newly renovated park and playground via the Facebook page of the Batavia Park District and a video it shared of the gravity rail. A gravity rail is like a swing mounted on a zip line, although in this case, the “trip” is a circle instead of a straight line. Once I saw that gravity rail, I knew we had to check this park out, and we did on a warm Saturday in late September. Even though it was getting late in the afternoon, the playground was busy with lots of families and groups, and there was quite a long line of kids waiting for the gravity rail. Fortunately, the extensive playground has lots of other cool features, such as cargo nets for climbing, multiple slides, tubes to scamper through and more. Below is a video of the gravity rail, so you can understand how it works!
What type of playground surface? Cushion, mulch, sand, etc?
The playground has mulch.
Is there a separate playground for toddlers?
There are some items for younger kids to sit and bounce on, musical instruments to play and a small climbing/crawling structure, but not a separate toddler playground.
Is there a paved trail or path good for walking or riding bikes and scooters?
There is a walking/jogging/bike path.
What was your child’s favorite part of the park? Least favorite?
Of course my daughter loved the gravity rail, but she also had a lot of fun climbing all over the rest of the playground, as well dancing and doing tumbling tricks on the skate park portion with some new friends she made at the playground. She didn’t like the long wait for the gravity rail, and she got frustrated that for a decent portion of time, it was dominated by some boys who kept making up their own “rules,” — like each person got to ride it twice before handing the swing over to the next person, or who just took an agonizingly long time to transfer the swing to the next rider.
What was your favorite part? Least favorite?
This is just a neat playground in general, with lots of unique elements. However, the parking situation is very strange and it’s a tough park to locate on your first visit. I also wish it had restrooms near the playground, ideally inside a building that would at least be open seasonally. Finally, the ramp that you climb to take the gravity rail “seat” up to board before the ride it is very slippery. This is something I noticed on our visit, but I thought the day we were there was just particularly warm and humid. However, other parents commented about it on the Go West Facebook page since this post was published. One said her smaller son needed help getting the swing up the ramp, another said not to wear sandals at this park – sturdy shoes required!
Does it seem like a park that might be especially crowded at certain times of day?
I do think the gravity rail is going to be a continual draw for this park and make it a popular stop. We went on a warm weekend the end of September, close to 4 p.m., and there was a crowd of kids. When we left it was getting cooler and dark and there was still a lot of people there. Honestly it nice to see so many people outdoors soaking up the warm weather before winter hits!
Are there public bathrooms?
There are no bathrooms on the park grounds that I could find, but there were some portable restrooms if you walked back toward Rotolo Middle School.
Is there shade over the playground? Is there shade for a picnic? Are picnic tables available?
There is a small picnic pavilion with a table underneath it as well as plenty of trees where you could throw a blanket for a picnic. There is not a lot of shade over the playground itself.
What ages to you feel this park is best for?
Because of the gravity rail, this park is probably best for children ages 5 and up and it has enough challenging climbing equipment, along with the gravity rail, to keep the interest of kids older than might usually be drawn to a playground. In fact, right before we left, a group of girls who looked to be at least in junior high school were having fun riding the gravity rail and acting silly, which I loved to see!