I’m super excited to be the first Urbana Parks Foundation Board member blogger! Let me introduce myself. My name is Libby Tyler and I’ve lived in Urbana since 1990. In fact, since we’re a pretty close-knit community, we probably already know each other!
My husband Rob Olshansky and I were drawn to Urbana in large part because of the great, walkable neighborhoods, great neighborhood parks, and excellent schools. Since we are both urban planners, we know how to scope out livable communities. And we were not wrong about Urbana. It has been the best place we could have chosen to raise our two sons. Our whole family has benefitted immeasurably from the Parks throughout our time in Urbana. At Carle Park near our home, our children rode the scary fun carousel, learned to love baseball playing catch, and got their start with Sharkey’s Soccer league. Later, they played baseball at Prairie, tennis at Blair, and soccer and basketball at Brookens. In the excellent Park District day camps they attended each summer, they learned all about nature, how to swim, and even how to do fine art, clowning, and dance. They are the first to admit that Urbana was a great place to grow up and I have to say that the richness and joy of their childhoods had a lot to do with access to Urbana Park facilities! As for myself, I continue to use the park facilities almost every day, taking walks at Meadowbrook, doing fun runs at Crystal Lake, and participating in several fitness and dance classes at Phillips.
I am a consulting planner and urban planning lecturer at the University of Illinois and just recently retired as the City of Urbana’s Community Development Director. Soon after my retirement, I jumped at the chance to join the Urbana Parks Foundation Board. I see my involvement on the Board as a way to give back to the community that has given me so much and as a great way to stay connected with colleagues and friends. Most importantly, I see my participation on the Urbana Parks Foundation Board as a way to build something really special for Urbana’s parks moving forward.
There is so much to look forward to in Urbana. Through the hard work of the park district and its supporters over the past several years, we can now boast a truly exceptional network of world-class neighborhood and community parks and facilities. I am most excited about the opportunities to restore the historic grandeur of Crystal Lake Park, to complete improvements to Weaver Park, and to build strong trailway and bike path connections between our parks. I am also very excited about the growing array of educational opportunities at the parks for all ages and inclinations – from yoga, to Zumba, to botanical illustration to …. well you name it. With your support, anything is possible!