PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Within the coming years, the city’s only ice rink, Owens Center, will likely be getting a $10 million facelift with new locker rooms, a new ice plant and more amenities for visitors.

And on Wednesday, State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth is to announce funding for an outdoor roller skating loop that would be put near the Lakeview Recreational Center.

“It is my core belief that we must be visionary and invest in recreational spaces to create experiences that impact residents of all ages,” the Peoria Democrat said. “I am appreciative of the hard work behind the scenes from the Peoria Park District to make this long-held vision I have had of this skating rink concept a reality, and I’m incredibly excited to see our families enjoy it.”  

The two projects plus the demolition and removal of the long-closed Lakeview Aquatics Center means the park nestled in between University Street and Sheridan Road on Lake is undergoing millions in renovation and additions, said Emily Cahill, Executive Director of the Peoria Park District.

Cahill and Gordon-Booth will speak Wednesday morning outside the Lakeview Recreation Center about the anticipated changes. It’s the latest collaboration between the Gordon-Booth and the park district. Past projects have included money for Glen Oak Park, a golf entertainment complex at the Golf Learning Center and renovations to the Proctor Center.


Cahill said the plan is to spend “somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million” over the next three to five years to update Owens Center. The rink, the only two-sheet facility in the area, is a time capsule back to the early 1980s when it was built. Little has change in its appearance save carpet replacements and new paint.

That could change, Cahill said. There’s money in the budget to hire a consultant to look at the facility and decide how to go about things. Among the items she mentioned were:

  • replacing the nearly 40-year-old ice plant and chiller which handles both sheets of ice. That’s long been on the list of things to do for the district
  • Updating locker rooms. What woudl be done and how remains to be seen but there is a sense that it’s time to update the cinderblock rooms.
  • Improving the food and drink options offered at Owens.
  • possibly finding a way to offer closed-circuit video for parents who want to watch their kids without sitting in the cold rink.

“When you were the first to do something, to have two sheets of ice, that was really unique at the time,” Cahill said. “The whole idea of visitor amenities was not really the priority then.”

The thinking is to try to do as much of the work while the rinks are shuttered due to the ice plant being replaced. Cahill said she hopes to phase the work in over time so they can keep one sheet of ice up and running as long as they can.


The project to be announced by Gordon-Booth will feature as its main attraction a roller skating loop that will have open space in the middle.

“The idea is that you learn to skate there. It’s less competitive and can allow for special events to take place with music and seating adjacent to the loop,” Cahill said, noting there are also plans for a splashpad to land nearby the loop.

The concept is part of a way, Gordon-Booth and Cahill said, of keeping people outside and active. The state representative noted that on Wednesday she and park officials will talk about “the implications for the community and efforts to promote healthy and active lifestyles that add vibrancy and variety to the Peoria area’s recreation offerings.”

Gordon-Booth is also going to talk about state funding for pathway improvements to Donovan Park as well, she said in a news release.