CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Champaign won the 2022 Diversity and Social Change Award for the Hedge POP! Park project.

Hedge POP! Park is an interim outdoor improvement project in the Garden Hills neighborhood. The project aims to defend future stormwater and provide recreation activities. Construction will start in 2023.

The American Planning Association – Illinois Chapter (APA-IL) awarded Champaign as officials believe the city supports a historically underrepresented neighborhood under “an extremely constrained timeframe and budget.” Officials said the Hedge POP! Park increases community engagement beyond typical meetings and offers programming to meet the needs of the youth.

“It’s an honor for the city to be recognized for the hard work and creativity that was put into the Hedge POP! Park project,” Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen said. “Our dedicated and professional staff, in collaboration with neighbors, really took this project to the next level when they transformed an empty lot into a community gathering spot in the Garden Hills neighborhood.”