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Urich calls riverfront park redesign ‘multipurpose and multifunctional’

Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich
Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich

With the Peoria City Council set to hear a presentation on the master plan for redesigning the riverfront, City Manager Patrick Urich sees the design concept as both practical and flexible.

The plans for a Riverfront Park, developed by Terra Engineering, Ltd., include sports courts, festival grounds, a playground, a dog park and a kayak launch, along with other amenities.

“We’ve been taking public input for a number of years to try and build out a park that is really designed for all ages, that is designed for activity along the riverfront, that is designed for entertainment along the riverfront, that is designed to be resilient when it floods that we're able to bounce back with it, that is designed to be multipurpose and multifunctional,” Urich said.

“So we took some great care in the design, in the initial kind of conceptual design, to think through, for example, how we could support the RiverFront Market, but then still use space for the park for the rest of the of the week, since the market is really just one day out of the week for half the year.”

Peoria is slated to receive a $15 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for the riverfront revitalization project. Urich anticipates the current design proposal would exceed that amount.

‘I think it's probably safe to say that the plan is designed is probably in the $15-$25 million range, so there's going to be some need for some fundraising efforts from the business community and interested benefactors that might want to support the Riverfront Park,” Urich said. “That's going to have to be part of this plan.

“With that, we also know there's going to be a higher level of maintenance cost, and also programming costs is an expense that we're going to be incurring, that the city is going to have to budget for. That's something we'll take into consideration in future budgets.”

Urich said he’s sympathetic to concerns raised by some business owners regarding how to pay for park maintenance and incorporate flood control measures.

“The flood prevention, we received an IEMA (Illinois Emergency Management Agency) grant to do some design work on flood prevention activities, specifically around the River Station, as well as looking at kind of a breakwater for the docks along the riverfront, which would be two areas that we have concern with when it floods,” Urich said.

“Second, when it comes to maintenance, that's something we're going to have to budget for. We know that it's going to be higher expense. We have a great partner in the riverfront park in the (Peoria) Park District, and that's something that we want to continue to do. So, a higher level of activity space and amenity space is going to mean a higher level of maintenance cost, and we're fully aware of that.”

Following the presentation to the City Council on Tuesday night, the riverfront plan will go to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 3 before returning to the full council for a vote on Aug. 8. Urich said a timetable beyond that isn’t entirely clear yet.

“Once the state releases the funds, then we'll start to do that work. We have no word yet back from the state yet on those funds, when they might be released,” said Urich, adding he believes it would take two construction seasons to complete the renovation.

While it’s not specifically a part of the Riverfront Park plan, Urich said the city hopes to hear from multiple vendors about bringing a new riverboat or similar attraction to the city-owned dock.

The space has been vacant since the Spirit of Peoria departed in April 2022 after the city passed on a $1 million purchase option. Urich described the request for proposals the city put out in seeking a replacement for the signature riverboat as “open-ended.”

“Once we gather that information back and see what kind of interest we have, we’ll hopefully have some interviews with the folks that that have expressed any interest,” Urich said. “If there isn't any interest, then we'll look at a Plan B about what we can do to be more aggressive about actively soliciting folks. But we'll see what comes from that.”

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.