Urbana Park District board seeks to improve diversity on advisory board

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Ambucs Park at 1140 University Ave. in Urbana, Illinois.

In an effort to increase the diversity of its advisory committee, the Urbana Park District Board is focusing its recruitment efforts on areas north of University Avenue as well as other areas north of Interstate 74.

The Urbana Park District Advisory Committee currently has five vacancies.

In a June 9 board meeting, the board discussed ways to ensure all parts of the Urbana community have spots on the advisory committee.

The board discussed looking into contacting people through neighborhood listservs and contacting people in the Lierman neighborhood to find those who might be interested in joining the board who otherwise might not.

Diversifying the board was not the only focus of the board’s meeting. Caty Roland, the Urbana Park District business manager, gave an overview of the Park District’s budget. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of all summer activities until July 31, including summer camps, the park district has seen a decline in revenue. Roland said that the park district lost $50,000 “right off the bat” when it closed in March, and has lost another $40,000-$50,000 in the last several months as the park district is closed through the end of July.

However, the Park District did receive a $28,000 payment from the Urbana School District for the SPLASH program that the district helps run. The park district receives $40,000 annually for the program.

Roland said she moved some funds away from investment accounts, to places like the “Illinois fund.” She added that the park district had similar financial issues during the 2008 recession.

The board discussed art in city parks, and it was noted that someone was interested in the “Molecular Reflection” statue. The board might bring up the potential sale at its July meeting.

Among other items discussed was the University of Illinois arboretum. The board mentioned that there are four new gardens planned at the arboretum, and the arboretum has a soil pit that tells people about the soils in Central Illinois.

The board briefly discussed diversity and inclusion efforts within the park district and then wrapped up the meeting discussing Leal Park and sanitary sewer improvements at Crystal Lake Park.

The next meeting of the advisory committee is scheduled for June 23.

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