UPDATE (9:42 p.m.) — There was a full house at the Peoria Park District Board of Trustees Meeting. Trustee members heard feedback about the proposed pavilion.

The pavilion or amphitheater will be in the southeast corner of Donovan Park. If approved to move forward, the Pavilion in the Park Board will need to raise 95% of funds before starting the project. President Sara Connor-James expects fundraising to take two years.

The Park District trustees heard comments that were both for and against the project being in Donovan Park. Supporters and critics discussed economic development, supporting the arts and Peoria resident retention.

“All those opportunities are already here. It’s not like we don’t have them and they’re bringing something here that doesn’t exist. So I do think to tie the pavilion with attracting more people here or economic development is not really a fair thing because I think there are a lot of people that like the hiking, walking and nature part of it just as well as having another venue to go see concerts and theatre,” Luan Railsback of Friends of Open Space for Donovan Park said.

“It’s not a good thing that kids are leaving Peoria, that families say that there’s nothing here or teenagers and college students want to leave Peoria because there’s nothing attractive to keep them here,” Connor-James said.

The Peoria Park District Board will make a decision Dec. 14.


PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Park District Board wants to hear from community members at its Wednesday meeting as they revisit a proposal to build a music amphitheater in Donovan Park.

The controversial 1,500 seat amphitheater was initially proposed last year, but withdrawn from PAV in the Park organizers because of community concerns about environmental impact, economics and sustainability.

Emily Cahill, executive director of Peoria Park District, said the board came to consensus at its October 26 meeting that it was important to hear from PAV in the Park organizers.

“The board wants to know where they’re at, what the status of their project is, what their interest level is, and then ultimately they will be gathering input from the public to see if anybody’s attitude or opinion has changed,” she said.

Cahill said they hope to get a better idea of what to do after the meeting, but “living in this uncertainty isn’t helping a lot.”

“I don’t know that any of us ever questioned their commitment to the community. I think it’s the details of the project. So this is our opportunity to see where they are, move things forward one way or the other, but stop living in the limbo,” she said.

The Peoria Park District Board meets at 5 p.m. at the Bonnie Noble Center in Peoria. Community members are encouraged to come share their thoughts. The meeting will also be streamed via Zoom.