PEORIA — Changes to transform a century-old recreation center in South Peoria are expected to include an esports suite, a dedicated dance studio, air conditioning and an expanded weight room.
These are some of the Peoria Park District’s plans for the Proctor Recreation Center, 309 S DuSable Ave., which will see about $2 million in improvements in a plan to be considered by the park board.
The money is half of about $4 million in public funds flowing to Peoria through the efforts of state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth. The other portion is going to a large-scale rehabilitation of Glen Oak Park on Peoria’s East Bluff.
“I think Peoria is a desirable community, but one thing you have to think about is how to make it even more desirable,” Gordon-Booth said. “What makes communities livable, fun, safe and more prosperous? And you have to think about who can do that.”
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This is the park neighborhood, the Peoria Democrat said, noting that it has properties in every neighborhood in the city, the staff and the expertise to provide quality programs and activities for residents.
What’s moving? What is added?
District executive director Emily Cahill said the district wanted to install air conditioning in one of the gymnasiums to make it more accessible year-round, as well as move the existing weight room to a lower level. She said it would allow for a larger training area and the addition of new equipment.
In place of the old weight room, there would be an esports suite. There are also plans for a dance studio and recording studio, Cahill said.
But it’s not just about physical improvements, she said. The district wants to bring some of its trainers from the RiverPlex to Proctor so the kids in South Peoria have closer access to their expertise and can work on developing fitness plans.
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Children would earn points by attending life and employment skills development classes or school classes to get extra help without having to pay, she said. Access to the weight room would continue as it currently does, for a nominal fee.
Some of the programming money would come from anti-violence grants the district received to help children after school and during the summer.
Long history in South Peoria
The Proctor Recreation Center originally had a freestanding recreation center. John Proctor, who died in 1907, bequeathed his estate to a group of trustees to establish the center and bathhouse to provide “free baths to the worthy poor of the city”.
The district has owned the center, which has been listed on the National Historic Register, since 1934. The pool behind the building will continue to be used, Cahill said, as long as the district can hire lifeguards.
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Glen Oak Park renovation awaits funding
The district is waiting for money to complete the Glen Oak Park projects, Cahill said.
“Once we confirm the money, we will begin the process of determining the details and moving the project forward,” she said.
Projects under consideration include replacing the amphitheater’s aging fascia with a more modern design, removing barbed wire fencing, and replacing the Tricentenaire playground with a field accessible to people with disabilities.