Dedication set to rename Wheatfield Park for Larson

Dedication set to rename Wheatfield Park for Larson

URBANA — Wheatfield Park in Urbana will become the new Larson Park in ceremonies Wednesday night.

The park, in southeast Urbana between McHenry and Combes streets, is being renamed to honor Bruce Larson, who served for 42 years on the Urbana Park District board, 37 of them as board president.

A name dedication ceremony will take place at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, during a Neighborhood Nights concert at the park. Participants are invited bring a lawn chair or blanket for the music of the band High Cotton, which will perform from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

The land for Wheatfield Park was acquired by the park district nearly 40 years ago. It was named in a contest among students at the nearby Yankee Ridge Elementary School. Other names suggested included Sojourner Truth Park, Wheat Germ Park, Country Field Park and Cornfield Park. In 1976, shortly after the land was acquired, the park district announced that the land would be plowed and disced in preparation for grass seed to be planted there.

"We are pleased to name this park for Bruce. It is fitting that this site he played such an important role in acquiring be a place where we can honor him for his years of dedicated service to us and to Illinois," said park district Executive Director Tim Bartlett.

During Larson's time on the park board the park district grew from six park sites to more than 20, and added facilities including Busey Woods, the Anita Purves Nature Center and the Phillips Recreation Center.

"Bruce Larson exercised transformational leadership during his tenure on the (park board) and helped the district become widely respected for its innovative practices," said board President Michael Walker. "Urbana owes him a great debt of gratitude."

Neighbors and park district staff are working to develop a new master plan for the park, and work will begin this summer on about $125,000 in improvements to the park, including new playground equipment, pathways and the resurfacing of tennis courts.

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