UPDATE (6:42 p.m.) — The Peoria Park District Board of Trustees unanimously voted to terminate any future consideration of a pavilion at Donovan Park.

The proposed pavilion included a 1,500-seat amphitheater. Last year the Pavilion Board withdrew its proposal after community concerns about economics and environmental impact.

The Pavilion Board came back and last month the Park Board heard public comments both for and against the pavilion. However, the pavilion board failed to persuade the Park Board to agree to the pavilion.

“The land value of Donovan Park is greater as a natural area than commercial development. This I believe states something about the vision of the Peoria Park District. Long-term Park District planning policy should reflect this public attitude of this former golf course,” said David Pittman of Friends of Open Space – Donovan Park.


PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Park District Board is set to make a final decision at its Wednesday meeting about whether Donovan Park is a suitable location for a controversial music amphitheater.

The Pavilion in the Park is a public-private partnership proposal to transform about an acre of the 125-acre Donovan Park into a 1,500-seat indoor-outdoor performing arts center.

“The project specific to Donovan is going to get that right or left tonight…If they say yes, we keep going. If they say no, then that should really stop the conversation,” said Emily Cahill, executive director of Peoria Park District.

Many community members have expressed concerns about light and noise pollution in what they believe is a valuable green space to the city.

To preserve that green space, Sara Connor-James, president of Pavilion in the Park Board, said they are working in conjunction with Illinois Central College’s Horticulture Program. Designs include planting 200 to 300 trees and 5,000 indigenous plants. By building small hills called berms, the earth will muffle any sound concerns.

“Due to the design of the building, which shapes downward, everything will be funneled down towards the berms,” she said.

In addition to the trees and plants, Connor-James said the parking lot will be all grass using permeable paver technology.

“Not only is this going to be a beautification and quality of life improvement for the city, but it’s also going to have some innovative technology for the parking area, which is going to be all grass. There will be no asphalt. The only non-green space is the area right around the pavilion,” she said.

Connor-James said they are working with nature, not against it.

“We have a great deal of respect for the park. We believe that green space is essential and that’s why we’re working in harmony with the park-like setting. As a matter of fact, we’re beautifying the park…,” she said.

The project comes at no cost to taxpayers, said Connor-James. The amphitheater will be funded by private donors, sponsors, corporations and community member donations.

“The benefits to the city and to the park are for generations to come. For people to observe and enjoy nature and the great outdoors, in addition to an artistic enlightening experience,” she said.

If the board decides no, Cahill said the group still has the option to restart the process with a different location. She said they appreciate when community members show interest in improving Peoria’s parks.