Reimagined Al Fresco Park one step closer to reality

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PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. — The Peoria Heights Village Board this week unanimously approved a lease agreement with Kim Blickenstaff.

Blickenstaff, a California-based entrepreneur, has several projects in the works in Peoria Heights. In this latest deal, he’s renting 10-acres of property south of the Illinois Valley Yacht Club. The lease contract will bring $20,000 over 20 years to Peoria Heights.

Blickenstaff says he hopes to resurrect Al Fresco Park. He hopes to build two spring-fed lakes for fishing, swimming, skating, among other things. He says he wants this reimagined park to be an eco-friendly version of what was once a community attraction.

“A special wildlife habitat also will be created – for river otters, trout, muskie, walleye, various bird species, etc. – where such creatures can flourish while also providing learning opportunities for those who otherwise may have limited experience with viewing them in their natural environment,” said Blickenstaff.

Blickenstaff adds he wants the park to be a recreational, educational, and progressive link between the McCluggage Bridge and Poplar Park.

“Little attention has been paid to that property for decades, and now someone has come along with a vision and a unique proposal and solid financing to potentially make something of nothing,” said Peoria Heights Mayor Michael Phelan, who says he likes the idea of the village retaining a say over future use of the property while also receiving the tax revenues produced by it.

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