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

Southridge Park 

LOCATION

3008 S. Myra Ridge Dr., Urbana

a blue kids playground surrounded by trees Photo by Maddie Rice. 

HISTORY AND FEATURES

Southridge Park was founded in 1987 from a land donation by developer Carl Hill, who owns and manages Hillshire Realty. By every standard of search engine sleuthing, this fella is 78 years young and is a pretty handsome devil if you were asking me honestly about how he appears online. A true silver fox!

Hey, thanks Carl, for valuing the neighborhood you developed with an 11 acre park that has a great walking path and a nice playground for kids to get dirty on. It's a simple park, nothing unbelievably magnificent or annoying at all. Just a nice spot for the neighborhood to gather in. 

a narrow walking path in a park Photo by Maddie Rice. 

ASSESSMENT

I've only been to Southridge Park twice, and both times, I could feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's true. 

Scene #1: Summer 1992. My first real and true crush is a gal from 7th grade and we're in the summer between that year and 8th grade. I'm friend-zoned immediately, but am I going to give up? Hell no. That's not the Seth Fein way! So, we become even closer friends, so close that in the summer, she invites me over to her house on Susan Stone, which was a pretty good hike down Windsor Road, but it was brand new, and was a nice day, and hey, this girl said I could come over, so I hoofed it. We ate lunch, and went to the park. We laughed, and we talked, and I was certainly overwhelmed by how smart and funny she was. But we were different people, that's for sure. Over time, I found new crushes, and so it was written. We were to be friends, and friends alone. 

Ahhhhh not so fast, life says! This gal is now my sister-in-law, and I love her dearly. She is one of the greatest and best friends I have ever had. It really worked out, but I will always remember the time we hung out in Southridge Park together. 

Scene #2: Summer 2010. Grammy had moved down from Northbrook about four years prior. Her health wasn't great, and she wanted to be closer to my mom, and her first great grandson. Yep, my best buddy and my brother had a son, so that was done: So long Mission Hills Country Club, hello Urbana, IL! She bought a duplex on Lexington Dr., which was in the new phase of the Myra Ridge development, just south of Southridge Park. 

Grammy finally passed after a short but not too painful bout of cancer on June 22, 2010. She died in her home, and literally her entirely family came down from Chicago and joined us at her home, and we spent three days hugging her and speaking to her in her ear, and now and again she'd come to and tell us she loved her. It was glorious. 

After she passed, we waited a solid two hours for the coroner to show up. Busy day, I guess. I took a walk to Southridge Park, and just spent some time in reflection. I remembered the day from 18 years back with my sister-in-law. I realized the value and pitiful nature of never having left your home town. I felt contemplative about what came next. 

When I walked back, the coroner had just pulled up, and I saw my sister-in-law outside with my wife and my sister. Family is everything. 

Top image by Maddie Rice.