Wheatfield Park to be renamed for Bruce Larson

Wheatfield Park to be renamed for Bruce Larson

URBANA — Wheatfield Park in southeast Urbana is being renamed to honor Bruce Larson, the longest-serving board member in the Urbana Park District's 107-year history.

The Urbana Park District board voted unanimously Tuesday night to name the 5-acre park bounded by McHenry Street on the north and Scovill Street on the south for Larson, who served from 1967 to 2009. Larson is a former professor of biochemistry and nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois.

The renaming comes at the same time that the district plans to invest about $125,000 into improvements at the park this summer, including new playground equipment, pathwork and the resurfacing of tennis courts.

Larson was instrumental in acquiring the property for parkland in the early 1970s, board president Michael Walker said Tuesday.

"The property was owned by a church," Walker said, "and Bruce had been in contact with people once it became available and he arranged a deal that was pretty favorable to the park district. So I think it's appropriate that we honor Bruce here, at a place that he had a very personal hand in acquiring."

Also Tuesday, board members reviewed a five-year draft capital improvement program that includes playground improvements, minor construction projects, path and trail work and some land acquisition.

Board members learned that a structural analysis of the Prairie Play playground at Meadowbrook Park is in better than expected condition and probably won't need any major rehabilitation work for five to 10 years. But they also were warned that the historic workman's cottage in Leal Park is overcrowded and has structural problems that will need to be addressed in a few years.

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acylum wrote on May 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm

I see the reason for naming it for this guy, but it leaves a pretty boring name on the park.  Larson park, May as well be called Generic park.  Upd has taken the identity away from a beautiful park and made it invisible even more than it is currently.  My family will always call it Wheatfield...its TRUE name.

inductee1 wrote on June 05, 2014 at 10:06 am

I appreciate your sentiment, but Wheatfield is a pretty generic name too. As I recall, the popular suggestion for the park name was Cornfield Park. Of course, UPD assigned the naming responsibility to elementary school kids. Kudos to the Park District for finally setting the record straight. Congratulations to Dr. Larson,