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Urbana Park District receives 29 acres for new park

Park lovers of Champaign-Urbana, rejoice – yesterday, it was announced that a new, 29-acre park is headed to Urbana, courtesy of a gift of land given to The Urbana Parks Foundation, and in turn, the Urbana Park District.

The new land is at the corner of High Cross Road and Windsor, and it also feels important to note that this is the largest gift that the Urbana Parks Foundation has ever received.

For more information, check out the press release below:

Urbana Parks to Grow with Land Gift

The Urbana Parks Foundation has received a gift of 29-acres of land to be developed into a new park and natural area for the Urbana Park District.  The parcel lies near the southwest corner of High Cross Road (Route 130) and Windsor Road in far southeast Urbana. 

The donors are long-time Urbana residents Nancy and Fred Delcomyn.  Both donors have deep ties to the Urbana Park District, where Nancy is the second longest-serving member of the current Board of Commissioners and Fred is president of the Urbana Parks Foundation. 

“This is a wonderful gift,” said UPD Board of Commissioners President Michael Walker. “It will expand the UPD’s natural area holdings and give us a prime park site ahead of development in the area.  In the century-plus history of the Urbana Park District, generous donors have played a vital role,” he added.  “This gift builds on that tradition and invites others to contribute to that legacy.”

“The land is likely to be developed into a park and native prairie or savanna environment,” said UPD Executive Director Tim Bartlett.   “The gift will make future development of the City of Urbana a more attractive option,” Bartlett added.  “Parks and natural areas in proximity to developed land – especially residential properties – increase land values, offer environmental protections and attract visitors from both local community and the surrounding region,” Bartlett said. 

The City of Urbana’s Director of Community Development, Elizabeth Tyler, agreed with Bartlett.  “The area immediately surrounding this site is already identified for potential residential development in our comprehensive plan,” Tyler commented.  “A park and natural area here would be easily accessible and should attract visitors from the entire region.”

The property is currently being farmed and farm operations will continue until the Park District is ready to develop the area.  The donors have directed that net income from the gift will be shared by the Park District and the Foundation, with three-quarters of the annual income being set aside for future development of the park and one-quarter going to the unrestricted use of the Foundation.

“The donors have taken a long-view of development,” noted Steve Rugg, UPF vice president, who announced the gift at the Foundation’s annual meeting on Thursday night at the Urbana Country Club.  “They have made their gift with the understanding that development may take some time.  Yet they chose to make the gift now, meaning that the revenue it will generate can be used to help cover future development costs and can also provide the Foundation with support for continued resource development.  It’s a win for everyone – for the Park District, Foundation, Urbana residents and the donors,” he emphasized.

Rugg also noted that the gift is by far the largest received by the Foundation in its relatively short life and is among the very largest ever received by the Park District as well.  Given current farmland prices, the potential for future residential development in the surrounding area and the income stream the gift will provide until the park is developed, Rugg estimated the total value of the gift at “very close to $600,000.”

At 29 acres, the new park will be about 2.5 times the size of Blair Park or Carle Park once it is developed.  The land initially will be held by the Urbana Parks Foundation, then transferred to the Park District as soon as it is ready for development or after ten years have passed if development has not yet begun.

The Urbana Parks Foundation is the private fundraising arm of the Park District.  Created in 2007, the Foundation is separately organized as a 501(c)(3) charitable entity governed by a Board of Trustees.  The Foundation conducts an annual fund drive for the Park District and joins UPD staff and Commissioners in soliciting major gifts from individuals, corporations, and other charitable organizations.

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