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State Grant to Help Expand Urbana Park District Outdoor Learning Opportunities

November 19, 2020 11:50 AM

Urbana Park District will use a $750,000 state grant to give visitors a new, accessible place to gather, view and learn about nature.

“The Urbana Park District is absolutely thrilled to be the recipient of a $750,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources,” said Kara Dudek, Park Planner. The Public Museum Capital Grants Program helps Illinois museums improve facilities and create new exhibits.

The Anita Purves Nature Center will be constructing an Outdoor Learning Pavilion to serve as the front door to all the site has to offer: programs, camps, environmental collections, wildlife viewing, children’s nature playscape, habitat gardens, and access to a 59-acre bottomland Oak-Hickory forest. It will also be a new space for family gatherings, or parties for any visitors to Crystal Lake Park.

Judy Miller, Environmental Program Manager at Anita Purves Nature Center commented, “Besides being a new home base for the district's Nature Day Camp program, the Learning Pavilion will be used throughout the year for public and school environmental programs. It will offer patrons a new location next to the Anita Purves Nature Center and the Friendship Grove Nature Playscape for nature exploration and learning.”

The project will construct a 30 by 40 foot pavilion with retractable sides for multi-season use. It also includes a fire place, all-gender restroom, storage for program supplies, site interpretation, drinking fountain, and grills.

Paths for accessibility will safely connect pavilion users to the nature center and nature playscape, as well as the new 26-space parking area with solar-powered street lights. A nearby rain garden will be constructed for infiltrating stormwater runoff from the new parking lot spaces, and trees will also be planted on site as part of the project.

Dudek concluded, “We owe a sincere thanks to not only the Department of Natural Resources, but also our Board of Commissioners, Citizen Advisory Committee, Urbana Parks Foundation and community members who have taken part in the planning of Crystal Lake Park.”


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