PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Trustees on the Peoria Park District board could decide at their meeting Wednesday night to begin the process of replacing the Christopher Columbus statue that once held court in Bradley Park with another piece of art.

Trustees will be asked to approve a request by Uplands Neighborhood Association and the West Bluff Council which asked the district to put a new statue in Bradley Park as a replacement for the Christopher Columbus statue that was removed in fall 2020.

The statue was removed amid a wave of concern about the explorer’s legacy. Many were upset over Columbus being linked to slavery and exploitation of indigenous people. As such, the board voted 4-2 in September 2020, to remove it from Laura Bradley Park and put it into storage.

Fast forward a couple of years and West Bluff groups are asking for another statue to be returned to the park. And they’d want the park board to sell the old statue of the Italian explorer to help fund the purchase of the new artwork.

Emily Cahill, the district’s executive director, said the votes are separate to avoid confusion. A second vote could come later where the board is asked to consider selling the old statute.

The statue was a gift from the developer of the then-new Uplands subdivision in 1902. It was later moved to Bradley Park in 1947.

In an email sent to the board of trustees in early May, Conrad Stinnett, who heads the West Bluff Council, asked the board to consider putting a statue of Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth, in the park.

“A Hebe statue was placed in the park, with the enthusiastic support of the Park Board, to honor park namesake Laura Bradley and stood in the park for decades until it was struck by an automobile in 1957. Returning a statue of Hebe to the park would 1) be a fitting memorial for park namesake Laura Bradley, which was the intent of parkland donor Lydia Moss Bradley. 2) allow the Park District to fulfill a longstanding commitment, made in 1957, to return a statue of Hebe to Laura Bradley Park and 3) would provide an elegant solution to issues created by the somewhat inelegant process by which the Columbus statue was removed,” he wrote in the May 4 email.

To help fund the purchase, Stinnett argued the Columbus statue could be appraised and then sold.