Revised Park District Proposal Keeps Glen Oak Amphitheater
Community opposition to removal of the Glen Oak Park amphitheater appears to have saved the historic venue.
The Peoria Park District has decided to keep the performance area in place after many neighborhood residents objected to original plans for upgrading the park that would’ve replaced the amphitheater space with picnic shelters, accessible restrooms, and an inclusive playground.
“This is an emotional thing. We know that there's a lot of tradition and sentimentality that comes with that area, and we love it, too,” said Cahill. “But we also know that things need to evolve; if you aren't evolving and changing to meet the changing needs of the community, then we aren't doing our jobs.”
Cahill said the district spent the past month hearing from community members about the renovation plans for the 127-year-old park, with the ultimate goal of serving the neighborhood needs and making sure continues to serve its purpose in the best ways.
“Making sure that we built in enough time to get feedback from as many people as possible and also being responsive to that was a part of our strategy from the outset,” she said. “We did get a lot of really significant feedback about the amphitheater and the importance of some sort of a permanent space for performance, and so we did modify our plans.”
The updated proposal still includes some significant changes to the amphitheater area, pending authorization from the Board of Trustees.
“We are, at this point, talking about a recommendation that would ask the board to approve removal of the current band shell,” said Cahill. “We would replace it, however, with a new permanent bandshell that is more modern, that would allow for current technology and what is needed for a concert or an event. So it is a transformation of the space.”
The current fence around the pavilion will still be removed, with some new fencing added to separate the seating bowl from the lagoon; temporary fencing employed for large-scale ticketed events. Cahill said having the amphitheater area open on a daily basis would add 12-14 acres of usable space to the park’s current 42 acres.
Cahill said they still intend to add the shelters, restrooms, and inclusive playground – a replacement for the Tricentennial Playground that has “reached its end of life” – elsewhere in the park, as well as new basketball courts.
The updated proposal will be presented to the Board of Trustees during the Sept. 15 meeting, with a vote on the staff recommendation expected two weeks later.