Proctor Recreation Center renovations aim to unite Peoria’s South Side


PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) – The Proctor Recreation Center on the south side of Peoria is a local history staple. Now it’s ready to deliver more to the families that depend on it.

“We want it to be a holistic experience,” says Peoria Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill. “It can be a one-stop-shop to support children and families as they look forward to building their future.

$2 million is set aside by the State of Illinois for the project, part of a $4 million grant proposal for Proctor and Glen Oak Park combined. But the changes are not limited to the air conditioning of gymnasiums and the relocation of the weight room.

“We offer many activities in our community,” says Cahill. “The next step is to provide activities that today’s children want to participate in.”

These activities include esports, yoga studios, and recording booths, all centered around catering to today’s kids.

Robert Johnson – the Chairman of the Park District Board of Trustees – sees it as a chance to lessen the violence plaguing Peoria.

“I like to recreate instead of incarcerate,” he says.

State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth wants the facility to act as an example of transformational change for his region.

“I want there to be places in this whole community that people who live in these areas can be absolutely proud of not just to be proud of but to go to,” she says. Gordon-Booth adds that working on equity-based projects like this plants the seeds for future generations to flourish.

The changes are a chance for more and more new ideas to be put into action. And it makes sense. At 125 years old, the oldest district in the state park has a reputation to uphold.

“We’re well known across the country, not to mention the state of Illinois,” Johnson points out. “And we are incomparable.”

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