Christopher Columbus statue coming down, Peoria Park District Board votes 4-2

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — After more than 70 years, the Christopher Columbus statue in Laura Bradley park is coming down.

The Peoria Park District Board of Trustees voted 4-2, Wednesday night, with some park district board members saying the statue and its history causes too much controversy in the community.

The board reviewed five options for the statue, each created with community input. Two of the options involved keeping the statue and three others for its removal.

  • Option 1: Leave the statue as is.
  • Option 2: Leave the statue as is and add signage,
  • Option 3: Remove statue, leave pedestal, and add signage.
  • Option 4a: Remove statue and pedestal and return the site to green space.
  • Option 4b: Remove the statue and pedestal less the base and place a different piece of artwork in the space.

Jacqueline Petty, trustee, proposed the Option 4a to remove the Columbus statue and pedestal and convert the area to green space, which the board ultimately chose.

Joseph Cassidy, trustee, proposed Option 1 to leave the statue as is and said it would be the best financial decision for the district. The proposal was turned down in a 5-1 vote.

Robert Johnson, president of the Peoria Park District, said after months of division on the issue, the board, going off of public input, felt this was the best decision to restore harmony in the community.

“It’s causing the community too much controversy, division, and that is not what we want during COVID right now,” Johnson said. “We’re going through a budget process and people were at their heights and we just wanted to make sure we’re bringing our community together and this was an issue that was causing a lot of problems in our community.”

Johnson said the plan, which could cost up to $18,000, is to remove the statue immediately but he didn’t give a specific date. He said the statue has been in Laura Bradley park since 1947 and that it will not be destroyed, but placed in storage until they figure out what to do with it going forward.

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