Smile Politely

Year of the Park, A to Z: Porter Park, Champaign

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

Porter Park

LOCATION

2310 S Rising Rd, Champaign

a small pedestrian bridge over a pond with a tall birdhouse in the foreground

Photo by Maddie Rice. 

HISTORY AND FEATURES

Who was Robert C. Porter? Not totally sure, honestly, but a google search tells me he passed in 2007, and was a farmer in the western part of Champaign. My aunt, who ran Champaign Park District for a decade plus and presided over the founding of this park, tells me that “the Porter family donated a portion of the land’s value, which was used as the 50% match for an Open Space Land Acquisition Grant. Additionally, grant funds were used for development and the UC Sanitary District paid matching funds as they had pipes along the south end and needed a buffer zone.” The park district worked with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to acquire a 400K grant to assist them in what was a $2 million build. Hey, that’s good stuff right there! 

The value of the homes in the picture below surrounding Porter Park have gone up significantly since it was created. Which is just fucking wild to me, you know? It’s like, if we use our tax dollars to invest into civic projects that benefit everyone, it improves economic conditions. Wait, what? Is that true? It is? 

I will standby while some elected or appointed official with significant amounts of power explains to me why we are spending tax dollars hiring armed military style officers to let you and I know about our tail light being out. Please, I will listen to this answer. I can’t wait to hear all about it. 

houses surround a prairie walking path

Photo by Maddie Rice. 

The park is pretty comprehensive, and I shit you not, I was gonna really go into some detail about this place because I think it demands it, but then, I woke up a couple months back to see that my sister from another mister, Laura Bleill, posted about Porter Park on her website, which you may have heard of? It is called Chambanamoms and it is filled with awesome info about what to do in C-U if you have kids. If you click around long enough, you can also find some hidden pages about what the best type of weed to smoke is depending on your children’s behavior that day. Go ahead, search for it! I promise you it is there! 

a large children's playground

Photo by Maddie Rice. 

Anyhow, click that link above, or hell, I will link it again here. There’s nothing I can tell you that Laura and her team didn’t do already as far as amenities at Porter Park go. Thanks for doing my job for me, sis! I am going to steal your kishke the next time I see you though. 

ASSESSMENT

Porter Park was one of the parks I was gonna make a video about when I first started this project, and I was literally about to send that list to our videographer when I saw on socials that the Champaign Park District had just accomplished that, so, here is this video, which has a nice simple guitar plucking soundtrack behind it, that I find to be soothing and peaceful: 

Admittedly, I had never been to Porter Park before I saw the video. It was at the beginning of the pandemic and it was dawning on me, like everyone else, that our options for entertaining our kids were going to be severely limited. So we packed them up in the ol’ jalopy and made the trip to what basically amounts to the edge of northwest Champaign. 
 
It’s a really nice park, honestly, especially for those who appreciate the vast sky that the flat Midwest offers when you can get a look at it. Lots of trails, lots of places for kids to play, a small pond with bridges, and informational plaques dot the massive 37+ acre footprint. 
 
a small fishing pier at Porter Park pond

Photo by Maddie Rice. 
Personally, I could never imagine living this far away from being able to get a bag of ice or a six pack of White Claws, but for those that do, this is one of the better recent builds in Champaign-Urbana, and something that my Aunt Bobbie calls “one of the best deals she ever made on behalf of the taxpayers” during her time leading CPD. 
 
I beg to differ, Auntie! This was a great thing you did, but I think you saving the Virginia Theater from total ruin and disrepair was your crown jewel, but hey, you and I like to disagree. It makes the hugs that much more valuable at Christmastime. 
 
Yes, I love and revere my Auntie Bobbie, who did the work in ways that I just am so damn proud of. 
Top Image by Maddie Rice. 

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