Skip to main content

Page last updated on September 7, 2021 at 2:01 pm

New Playground Coming to Butler Park in 2021

Bloomington Parks and Recreation staff on Jan. 19, 2021 removed all playground equipment, except for a four-bay swingset, from Rev. Ernest D. Butler Park and began preparing the site for new slides, a climbing net, and elevated walkways. 

The new playground at Butler Park is funded by a Parks General Obligation Bond. Originally this project called for just an expansion to add a climber/spinner of some sort, but because of the poor condition of the platforms on the existing play structure, the decision was made to replace the entire structure. The Parks and Recreation Department secured grant funding from play equipment vendors that allowed for the replacement of all the equipment, plus the addition of a climber/spinner feature. The playground footprint will be expanded to the north to accommodate the climber/spinner.

The playground equipment was delivered in December 2020. Construction on the new playground is estimated to begin later this spring.

  • Playground equipment $60,000
  • Concrete curbing around perimeter of the playground $5,000

Reverend Ernest D. Butler Park, 9 acres in size, is located at 812 W. Ninth St. at the intersection of West Ninth and North Fairview Streets. Parking is available along Ninth Street, or in the small parking lot near the playground off North Fairview. Bike racks are available near the parking lot.

Butler Park is a relatively new name for the park, but the park has a long and colorful history as a city park. It began as West Ninth Street Park, and in 1972 was still owned by the Illinois Central Railroad. The property was leased by the city, and the first summer concerts sponsored by the Human Relations Committee were held in West Ninth Street Park in summer 1968. In May 1973, the Board of Park Commissioners voted to repair the spray pool at the park, and to leave the spray pool in its present location. New playground equipment was installed in Ninth Street Park in 1984, and again in 1998.

West Ninth Street Park was re-named Reverend Ernest D. Butler Park in June 2005 in honor of Reverend Butler, who played a significant role in founding the local Human Rights and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commissions. Butler died in 2003. He had been the pastor of the Second Baptist Church for more than 40 years.

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan presented a copy of the park's interpretive sign honoring Reverend Butler's accomplishments, to the Butler family in a ceremony on June 25, 2005.

Local graffiti artist Mike Burchfield in May 2011 painted murals on the north and east sides of the restroom building at Butler Park.

Fitness station equipment was installed in 2014 by IU Health in an IU Health Day of Service project. The fitness equipment was installed where the old spray pad was located, near the restroom building on Ninth Street.