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 [email protected].

NAME

Dodds Park 

LOCATION

1501 N, Mattis Ave., Champaign, IL 61822

a wooden sign that states Dodds Park Photo by Maddie Rice. 

HISTORY AND FEATURES

Dodds Park is one of the largest parks in the entire community, and its size stands as a testament to the person for whom is it named. Pick Dodds was park commissioner for 41 years. That is how old I am. That is an incredible run doing a job like this one. Good for him! 

A wooden sign that states Eddie Albert GardensPhoto by Maddie Rice. 

The land was acquired in 1969, and over the course over fifty plus years, has expanded to include a lot of wonderful pieces of programming. The Eddie Albert Community Gardens are exactly as billed; residents or non-residents of Champaign are welcomed to rent a 20x20 or 20x30 plot of land, either year round, or seasonal for a very low fee. 

An aerial view of four softball diamonds and a parking lot Photo from Champaign Park District website

One of the most popular features of Dodds Park is its expansive softball fields and soccer fields, and wooo boy do people come out in droves for them each year. The fields are very well maintained, and there is ample parking for everyone who visits. The bus line runs right to the park as well, for those who choose or need to take public transportation. 

Another nice thing you can do is take a bike ride on the Greenbelt Bikeway Trail, which exists over three parks: Dodds, Heritage, and Kaufmann Lake. It is a short ride of just 1.44 miles but ride it a few times and you'll burn the calories you need. 

ASSESSMENT

The amount of space offered here and its proximity to Parkland College make Dodds a fine piece of land for all of us to enjoy. The Champaign Park District does a great job each year providing us with great athletic programs to pursue, along with open space to exercise our green thumb as well.

a large white monolithic sculpture sits behind a sign stating Tribute to Olympic AthletesPhoto from Champaign Park District website.

Beyond that, the Tribute to Olympic Athletes is a nice way to spend thirty minutes, given the incredible history we have here in Champaign-Urbana. If you wanted to read more about the Paralympic athletes and their tradition of victory here in town, I'll point you to a piece Joshua George did for us a few years back. He, too, is a Gold Medalist, and well, it's just awesome that this is a piece of our community and its history. 

Top image by Maddie Rice.