As Year of the Park continues, we will be documenting every park in Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy, Champaign County Forest Preserves, along with other odds and ends between July 2020 and July 2021. You can see what has been covered thus far by clicking here. If you have suggestions or ideas or feedback, feel free to contact us at info@smilepolitely.com.

NAME

John L. Jones Park 

LOCATION

310 W Church St., Savoy 


HISTORY AND FEATURES

If I were to dive into the history of who the human John L. Jones was, and what he represented to the founding of the Village of Savoy, I'd be a neglectful father. Honestly, that isn't happening, and I think it's time that I get a bit more honest with whatever audience this series on parks in Champaign-Urbana has. 

I am not interested in reading about, or reporting on, the namesakes of these parks, really at all. I mean, I will always look it up, and on occasion, I will find something interesting to share, but by and large, here's the news: these parks are named after a person who donated land. That's awesome, and for that we should be thankful. Some of those people are worth discussing. Others, not so much.

Mostly, I just wish to document every park in Champaign-Urbana-Savoy over the course of a year. What that looks like, week in and week out, writing about over 100 parks over 12 months, I am not totally sure. What I do know is that I founded Smile Politely to give amateur journalists and wacko writers like myself a chance to breathe, and to do some things that read different, and look different. That is the goal. We are not a newspaper. We are not a traditional journalism outlet. It was never interesting to me to try to manage that sort of thing, or even engage with the idea of it. I am far more interested in a column like Tom Ackerman or Cope Cumpston writes than I am in adhering to whatever trough of tired processes were laid before us prior to the advent of online publishing. We are barely even weird, honestly. You want weird, just, you know... click around for a while. You can find some weird shit. 

But because I received an email from someone telling me that I would have flunked a University of Illinois journalism assignment with regards to my Glenn Park assessment, predicated on the fact that I didn't look up the history of whoever this "Glenn" person was, if that was his real name, I feel compelled to mention it. 

John L. Jones may or may not be in this photo that I ripped from the Savoy website. I presume he is. Here are the people that brought you Savoy. No surprise here, but no ill will, I promise. Savoy has plenty to celebrate, honestly. Mostly the fact that it's the suburb of Champaign-Urbana. The suburb. Yes, Savoy is our suburb. We have one. It is Savoy. It is actually, definitively a suburb. There are a few Savoy parks and nooks to get to before this series is over, and this is the first I am doing. So, getting this all out now, so I can simply refer to it as time goes on.

Here are the people who founded it. There. Some history for you, since you care so much! Do you really want to know more about these people? I sure don't. Have a ball, knock yourself out, y'know? 

a group of extremely white men sit at a table posturing about their lives Photo from Village of Savoy website.

John L. Jones was the first Village President of Savoy. He served in that role for literally 47 years, from 1956 until 1983. That is absolutely bananas. After he retired, or died — hard to say honestly, and again, no information at the ready on him — the next Village President, Michael Terstriep, hired an Administrator / Manager for the Village, which to me says, "I don't want to do all this paperwork, but I do want to speak about my role to my neighbors, and let them fawn over my value to the democratic process." It seems this trend has taken root here in our community! Taxes! I like it! 

But I digress. You can read about the history of Savoy on its website, and that is something that I enjoyed doing. But to be clear, it did not change how I feel about the Village, which has not been good as of late. 

To be clear, there is no Mayor of Savoy. And while I will admit that Mayor sounds that much more powerful, and that much more fulfilling than Village President, the position does not exist. Yet, the current Village President of Savoy, who is retiring next year after just four years of playing pretend to be something of importance, and who is an enthusiastic supporter of white supremacists, which makes her something of a white supremacist, insists of calling herself the Mayor of Savoy, thereby fueling her massive ego and further showcasing her insignificance. Sounds familiar!

She shows up at important events, furrows her brow, and acts like what she does makes a difference. Let me be clear: it does not. Nothing she does makes a difference. She is a bigot. 

Anyhow, I am always happy to see permformative shit like this by known bigots. It reminds me that no matter how depraved I am, how deeply affected I am, and how much I still need to improve, how much I can create more space for kindness in my heart, I am not that.

I am not that

Anyhow, John L. Jones Park has a ball diamond, which we know is always a very good thing, along with tennis courts — also, a good thing — and little corners to tuck into if you are up for a relaxing afternoon in an unassuming neighborhood park in the "suburb." There are little hills that are cute, and it is just sort of a nice place to be.

It also has a Little Library. Hey, that is a nice thing, too. 

a wooden box in the park that is a little library is filled with books for borrowingPhoto by Maddie Rice.

Here is a picture of how lovely it is: 

a small grove with trees surrounding itPhoto by Maddie Rice. 

ASSESSMENT

Look at this lovely bench you can sit on in this park. Honestly, for as cynical as Savoy makes me, and as much as the Village President is quite simply a Village Idiot, that shouldn't stop you from giving this lil' park a try. 

a wooden bench carved from the trunks of treesPhoto by Maddie Rice. 

The simple truth is that there isn't a lot to do in Savoy, but the things that it does carry are meaningful and A-OK. I mean, Skateland alone deserves the biggest tip of the cap for still being open by now. Before the theater closed, it was still the OG multi-plex in the area. There's some good food too, honestly! Star BBQ is legit legit Korean food, and offers karaoke to boot. Plus, you will never be sad at a stop at Triptych Brewery, which is the beacon of creativity and goodwill inside the VIllage. It is a truly great place to party with friends. 

But back to the park: someone built a devil's net for you to not do mushrooms in. Instead, let your kids inhabit it, and tell each other stories, made up, on the spot. That is a better choice. 

a stick teepee built of timber from the park Photo by Maddie Rice. 
Top image by Maddie Rice.