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Renovations at Proctor Recreation Center aim to unite Peoria’s South Side

The facade of the Proctor Recreation Center in Peoria
The facade of the Proctor Recreation Center in Peoria(25 News/Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 6:21 PM CST
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) -The Proctor Recreation Center on Peoria’s south side is a staple of local history. Now, it’s ready to deliver more for the families that depend on it.

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

$2 million dollars are set aside from 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 more than just air conditioning in the gyms and shifting the location of the weight room.

“We provide a lot of activities across our community,” Cahill says. “The next step is to provide activities that today’s kids want to be a part of.”

Those activities include e-sports, yoga studios, and recording booths, all centered around catering to the kids of today.

Robert Johnson — the president of the Board of Trustees for the Park District — sees it as a chance to alleviate the violence plaguing Peoria.

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

State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth wants the facility to behave as an example of transformational change for its area.

“I want there to be places all over this community that people that live in those areas can absolutely be proud of to not only be proud of but to go to,” she says. Gordon-Booth adds doing work on equity-based projects like this plant the seeds for future generations to flourish.

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

“We’re well known throughout the country, let alone the state of Illinois,” Johnson points out. “And we’re second to none.”

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