PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Tensions ran high at the Peoria Park District’s “Talk About it Tuesday at Cyd’s in the Park,” Sept. 14, as community members voiced concerns over the potential Donovan Park Pavilion project.

The non-profit organization Pavilion Arts Centre first proposed the 18-acre performing arts center to the Peoria Park board in Oct. 2019. The proposal was brought up again in Oct. 2020.

Now, the Executive Director of the Park District, Emily Cahill, said they are seeking the input of the community as they prepare to continue planning the project.

“This is part of our process. We welcome it,” Cahill said. “We want to be open and transparent, and sometimes that means you have to have arguments and conversations that aren’t so fun.”

At the meeting, the volunteer group “Friends of Open Space at Donovan Park” sought out answers about project details and voiced major concerns about the loss of green space and disrupting wildlife in the neighborhood.

One of the volunteers, Bridget Burke, said she found it exciting that so many people showed up to support their cause.

“It’s been very hard getting any information about this project,” Burk said. “I’m hopeful that the trustees will be open to listening and that people will continue to show up and express their concerns.”

She said she hopes the green space will ultimately be preserved.

“The neighborhood [will lose] the integrity of this wonderful space,” Burk said. “It’s a great park as it is and sometimes it’s just nice to commune with nature.”

Cahill said this is just the beginning of the conversation with the public. She said they’re planning more of these less formal conversations to figure out what the best decision is for the community.

“When we present what we hope is a finalized, at least starting draft of that term sheet on September 29th, that’s when that opportunity really comes to say … this is missing, or I wish you’d consider that,” Cahill said. “Some of this upset is a little premature from our perspective, but we welcome it.”

She said they are projected to vote on the project at their Oct. 27 board meeting.

Cahill said anyone can email concerns or questions about the project to The next “Talk About it Tuesday” is Sept. 28.

To learn more about the project and meetings, visit the Peoria Park District’s website. You can go here to learn more about Friends of Open Space at Donovan Park’s mission.