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 more like August or September 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 [email protected]

NAME

Weaver Park 

LOCATION

2205 E. Main St., Urbana

a restored prairie Photo by Seth Fein. 

HISTORY AND FEATURES

Weaver Park is an ongoing project that Urbana Park District has been working on for the past two decades in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Right now, it features an unpaved walking trail, that loops around the park and through ponds and restoring natural prairie. It also acts as a retention basin for the area, so this is a win win for both civil engineering and landscape design. 

There's a large field to the south of the park if you wanna play catch or frisbee, as well. It leads to the old Prairie Little League Field, where I once hit a curve ball off David Leming in an All-Star game that rolled back to the pitcher. He laughed at me about it, but he had every right. I was a good hitter, but he was a better pitcher. The sign for the field remains literally the same as it did in 1990, and probably even before that.

There is a piece of art off Main St. on display currently as well. It's a very interesting piece, well juxtaposed against such a wild piece of natural habitat in east Urbana. 

a piece of modern trash art Photo by Seth Fein. 

But for now, it's that lovely walking path through the natural areas that is the thing. Urbana Park District just seems to understand how to create space for natural beauty inside an otherwise drab and boring topography. Yay Urbana! 

ASSESSMENT

When it's all said and done, Weaver Park is going to be similar in scope to Meadowbrook Park, although probably not quite as robust and dynamic as the Queen of Parks in CU. 

Once the Kickapoo Rail Trail grows longer and more robust, this will be just another stop along its path, but for now, Weaver Park acts as the trailhead for the Urbana portion of it. 

Weaver Park Trailhead signPhoto by Seth Fein. 
A sign detailing the Kickapoo Rail Trail Photo by Seth Fein. 

I am very excited to see what they ultimately have in store for Weaver Park. Future plans call for more trails as well as athletic fields to complement the space. Regrowing woodlands takes decades, so we may not see it come to fruition for some time to come, but for the moment, it's a great place to take a small urban hike, and that's enough for me. 

Top image by Maddie Rice.