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

Crestview Park

LOCATION

1802 S. Cottage Grove St., Urbana


HISTORY AND FEATURES

There's so much to love about Crestview Park in Urbana, except that former city admin allowed hawkish developers to horn in on the adjacent property and muck it up a bit. 

Nevermind that, though. It is what it is. 

crestview park signPhoto by Tim Bailey. 

This park features about 5.5 acres of land, and the usual, normal amenities that you've been accustomed to reading about: playground, shelter, open space, et al. 

But what really makes Crestview unique and worth a visit and some of your time is the partnership between Urbana Rotary and the Tokyo Koishikawa Rotary. Starting in 1978, the two clubs have exchanged ideas, and cultural prowess, in order to develop a Japanese Koishikawa garden on the property, and it is sort of mesmerizing. Like, how is this here? 

Photo by Tim Bailey. 

Hey, you should read more about it!

Most parks don't have this sort of thing — not here, not anywhere. You love to see it. 

ASSESSMENT

So, yes, this particular Koishikawa garden is special. Say that three times fast! It's super fun to do. Been annoying my family with it for a week now. Anyhow, it's special. That's apparent just in how unique it is inside of our parks systems, city wide — and I mean Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy, which is a singular suburb and is part of our city, damnit! 

a small wooden bridge with a dry stream below it Photo by Tim Bailey. 

But what it has me thinking about is the fact that not only do we have this park and garden, steeped in Japanese tradition, we also have Japan House: a marvel of curation and careful programming. It is the best and most rewarding cultural space we have, honestly. Pound for pound, I'd put it up against any other monolithic experience in this fair city. Yes, CU has monolithic experiences, particularly if you are a stoner. 

Seriously, just go check it out

And that has me thinking about the fact that most of our students from that part of the world come from Korea and China, and not Japan, as you can see that on display in campus, and in the majority of restaurants and Asian grocery options around town. 

A small boardwalk in crestview park Photo by Tim Bailey

So I'd call it anomalous that we'd have not one, but two, Japanese spaces to explore. Makes you wonder what could happen if the powers that be (I.E. UIUC, VCC, City Governments, CCRPC, etc etc) were devoted to promoting that piece of our community in a robust and comprehensive way, but it appears as though they are not. 

Why? Oh, I'll tell ya why. I can tell ya why all night, baby! But not tonight, of course. Tonight, let's just focus on Crestview Park, and how it represents our Asian-American influence here in CU, smack in the middle of the middle of the middle of the nation. 

This is just one example of why Champaign-Urbana is still worthy of your time and affection. Show me another community this size that has this particular amenity? I would love to read about it. 

Top image by Tim Bailey.