Crestview Park and its Asian garden sit along South Cottage Grove Avenue between Florida and Colorado avenues in a mixed residential area that includes single-family homes and apartment complexes.
Urbana Park District files include copies of a 1972 petition from southeast Urbana residents asking for more parks in that area. In 1977, the park district received a federal Land and Water Conservation grant of more than $168,000 to buy the 5.43-acre site. During its first four years, the park site, which had been an empty field, underwent clean-up, grading and filling. A picnic shelter, sidewalks and trees appeared in 1982, thanks to financial help from the Urbana Rotary Club, which would become more involved in the park a few years later.
Improvements during the park's first ten years included water and electrical lines, adding a volleyball court, a horseshoe pit, playground equipment, some benches, picnic grills and landscaping. The Urbana Rotary Club, with direction from rotarian and park board member Walter Keith, which had helped fund the first improvements in the park, took on the task in 1987 of funding an Asian-style garden at the site. The Koishikawa Garden was built in 1990. The club had paired with a sister club in Japan, and the garden would become a symbol of that tie.
In 2004, a sidewalk was installed from the existing sidewalk to the pavilion and from the pavilion to to playground, making them both handicap-accessible. An accessible drinking fountain was also installed between the pavilion and playground.
ln 2007, the playground will be replaced using funds from a federal Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grant. Crestview Park was created in part because the neighborhood's recreational needs had surpassed what the older, smaller Sunnycrest Tot Lot could provide a few blocks to the west.
KOISHIKAWA GARDEN IN CRESTVIEW PARK
Since 1978, the Urbana and Tokyo Koishikawa rotaries have forged goodwill between dub members and both communities. In the first ten years, visits between Tokyo and Urbana were frequent, as club members from both groups visited the other and continued to build their relationship.
ln 1986, an exchange of trees between the two clubs resulted in three new dogwoods in Wood of Education Park in Tokyo and four wisterias in
Urbana's Crestview Park.
In honor of the their tenth anniversary as matched clubs, Urbana Rotary undertook a large commemorative project, Koishikawa Garden. This Asian-style garden in Crestview Park would incorporate the wisteria already planted as well as add walkways, shrubs, bridges, perennials, grasses and a water feature. The garden intended to meld traditional styles of Japanese garden with elements of the Chinese-influenced
zigzag bridge and touches of American garden styles that feature colorful perennials and ornamental grasses.
The Urbana Rotary Club raised more than $40,000 for the garden and donated it to the Urbana Park District, which contributed additional funds to the project and oversaw construction in 1990.
Koishikawa Garden in Crestview Park is a wonderful place for meditation or contemplation, in addition to being both a living memorial to a longstanding international friendship and a place for residents to enjoy a bit of another culture in their own neighborhood.
Text from Mancuso, Dana L. (Ed.). (2007). A century of growth: the Urbana Park District's first 100 years. Urbana, IL: Urbana Park District.