PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A group seeking to build an eco-friendly music amphitheater says they are seeking a new location for their project.
In a 7-0 vote on Dec. 14, the Peoria Park District Board shot down Donovan Park as a potential location for the Pavilion in the Park. Those opposed to the location expressed concerns about the loss of green space, noise, and light pollution.
“They expressed as did many of the community members that there is certainly value to the project as presented, but its value in Donovan Park was not something that the Park Board felt was something that made sense,” said Emily Cahill, executive director of Peoria Park District.
Designs for Pavilion in the Park feature 5,000 indigenous plants, 300 trees, and monarch butterfly weigh station.
“We want it to be very rural and bucolic. It is not the kind of place that can go in a parking lot…Easy access to businesses, retail, restaurants, that kind of thing,” said Sara Connor-James, president of Pavilion in the Park Board.
Connor-James said the group is disappointed with the board’s decision, and believes it would be a shame for Peoria if the project lands in a different community. She said they have been speaking with people in Peoria Heights, along the Peoria Riverfront, Dunlap, and East Peoria.
“Our goal is to make a positive impact in the Central Illinois region. If Peoria cannot step up to the table and make this happen, then we have no choice but to go with people who have vision and want to see their communities uplifted,” she said.
Connor-James said Peoria is losing out on the beautification of Donovan Park, $13 million in project revenue, increased home values, 250 union jobs, and 100,000 visitors to the area.
“Peoria is hemorrhaging talented people, businesses, and money. Peoria needs to determine how to attract all three…This project will fundamentally lift Peoria out of the apathy,” she said.
Cahill said the group is welcome to come back to the board with a new proposed location. She said the board’s decision to reject the proposal was only related to the location.
“I think that they have a good vision and certainly a good commitment. They’ve been at this for a long time, so they are certainly committed to the cause, and I hope they find a home,” she said.
Connor-James added the Pavilion in the Park is “much more than an entertainment venue.”
“It’s the quality of life in Peoria that we’re talking about. It’s the marriage of all three. It’s the environmental harmony of the great outdoors with the arts, as well as the economic benefit and the cultural benefit,” she said.