A Look Back at 2023

Dec 2023

Another year has flown by, and once again there was much to celebrate when it comes to Urbana parks. We are thrilled to see the progress on major projects we have raised funds for over the past few years and so excited about these new facilities coming to fruition in 2024-25.

Health & Wellness Center Groundbreaking

One of the most exciting milestones this year came at the beginning of May, when the Urbana Park District officially broke ground for the new Health & Wellness facility, located on East Washington Street, between the Brookens Center and Preston Williams Elementary.

This new facility represents the largest construction project in UPD history, designed to provide a welcoming and motivating environment, with amenities based on feedback from the community and research into similar facilities aroound the midwest. The project has been made possible made possible by state and local grants—including $2 million in ARPA funds from the City of Urbana—as well as private donations.

You can see recent construction photos and follow the center’s progress here.

City, county, state, and park district officials hold shovels to take the ceremonial first scoops of dirt.

Meadowbrook Park Playground Giving Project

After an intensive community input process, a design plan was adopted by the UPD in 2022 for a new playground to replace the iconic PrairiePlay in Meadowbrook Park.

This project represents the most ambitious playground in Urbana Park District history, designed to create an inclusive playground experience for kids of all ages and abilities—and their caregivers.

Trends in playground design have changed over the years, and a new space for Meadowbrook Park is needed to ensure that today’s children have access to an accessible, inclusive playground tailored to their developmental needs. Learn more about the proposed design and how you can help support the project here.

If you would like to leave your mark on the new playground, you can also support the project by purchasing a personalized fence picket for the new playground. Pickets are $125 each, and proceeds support construction of the new PrairiePlay.

Recognition for Fundraising Efforts

In November we were thrilled to see three of our board members honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals of East Central Illinois on National Philanthropy Day. Fred and Nancy Delcomyn were recognized as 2023 Outstanding Philanthropists and Ellen Kirsanoff was recognized as this year’s Lisa Mauney Outstanding Fundraising Executive. We were excited to celebrate this honor, and we are sincerely grateful to the Delcomyns and to Ellen for their many contributions to the Urbana Parks Foundation and Urbana Park District.

Barn Bash 2023

On May 12, we welcomed friends and supporters at Hudson Farm in Urbana for another evening of music and fun at the Barn Bash. We enjoyed a gorgeous evening, tasty treats from local food trucks, and of course music from The Boat Drunks. 

Prior to the event, UPF Trustees and Friends pledged $1,200 as matching funds in support of Youth Scholarships. Attendees ended up exceeding our goal and donating over $1,400 to help make UPD programming even more accessible to local children. 

Mark your calendars: the next Barn Bash will take place on Friday, May 17 at Hudson Farm. Keep an eye on this page for updates as we get closer to the event!

City, county, state, and park district officials hold shovels to take the ceremonial first scoops of dirt.

Wandell Sculpture Garden Silver Anniversary

We celebrated a quarter century of Meadowbrook Park’s dynamic outdoor art gallery in September with a rededication of the Wandell Sculpture Garden at the start of the 2023 Jazz Walk.

Throughout the year we featured different sculptures and news about some of the artists. Learn more about the garden, how to support this beautiful collection, or even donate a sculpture yourself here!

Kickapoo Rail Trail Land Acquisition

Like the stitches and threads that hold fabric together, trails form important infrastructure for connecting people to our parks, and the Kickapoo Rail Trail (KRT) has received an $11.2 million grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to build out new sections of the popular trail.

The KRT is a joint endeavor between the Urbana Park District, Champaign County Forest Preserve District, and Vermilion County Conservation District for a 24.5-mile bike and pedestrian trail that connects from Urbana’s own Weaver Park to Kickapoo State Park in Danville with a longer-term vision of connecting into downtown Urbana. The construction of these new sections of trail is incredibly exciting, but there is still a vital unmet need to ensure safe connections across Main Street and into Weaver Park that is not covered by the grant.

These trail connections are critical, and the Urbana Parks Foundation is seeking $16,000 in funding to support acquisition of additional parcels of land along Main Street, north of Weaver Park, to create future, safe KRT trail connections that will increase the accessibility of Weaver Park for cyclists and pedestrians. You can support the project here.

For more information about the Urbana Parks Foundation and upcoming campaigns in support of Urbana parks or to make a gift, please visit https://urbanaparksfoundation.org/. You can also connect with UPF on Facebook.