What's coming in $2 million makeover of Peoria rec center? New weight room, esports suite

·3 min read
The historic Proctor Recreation Center, 309 S. DuSable St. in South Peoria, is getting $2 million in renovations.
The historic Proctor Recreation Center, 309 S. DuSable St. in South Peoria, is getting $2 million in renovations.

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.

Those are some of the plans the Peoria Park District has 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 of state funds coming to Peoria as a result of state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth's efforts. The other portion is going to a full-scale rehab of Glen Oak Park on Peoria's East Bluff.

"I feel that Peoria is a desirable community, but one thing that you have to be thinking about is how to make it even more desirable," Gordon-Booth said. "What are the things that make communities livable, fun and safe and more prosperous? And you need to think about who can do that."

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That's the park district, the Peoria Democrat said, noting it has properties in all areas of the city, the staff and the expertise to provide quality programming and activities for residents.

What's getting moved? What's getting added?

Plans call for the current weight room at Proctor Recreation Center to become an esports suite. The weight room will be moved downstairs to a larger space.
Plans call for the current weight room at Proctor Recreation Center to become an esports suite. The weight room will be moved downstairs to a larger space.

Emily Cahill, the district's executive director, said the district wants to put air conditioning into one of the gyms to make it more accessible year-round, as well as move the existing weight room into a lower level. She said that would allow a larger workout area and the addition of new equipment.

In the old weight room's place would be an esports suite. There are also plans for a dance studio and a recording studio, Cahill said.

But it's not just physical upgrades, she said. The district wants to bring some of its trainers from the RiverPlex to Proctor so kids in South Peoria have closer access to their expertise and can work to develop fitness plans.

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Kids would earn points by participating in life skills and job development or school classes to get the additional help without having to pay, she said. Access to the weight room would continue as it does now, with a nominal fee.

Some of the programming money would come from anti-violence grants the district has received to help kids after school and over the summer.

Long history in South Peoria

Proctor Recreation Center was originally endowed as an independent recreation center. John Proctor, who died in 1907, bequeathed his estate to a group of trustees to establish the center and public baths to provide "free baths for the worthy poor of the city."

The district has owned the center, which is on the National Historic Register, since 1934. The swimming pool that sits 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 arrival of funds

A recording studio could be in the works for the space currently occupied by the computer lab at Proctor Recreation Center.
A recording studio could be in the works for the space currently occupied by the computer lab at Proctor Recreation Center.

The district is waiting on the money to do the projects for Glen Oak Park, Cahill said.

"Once we have the money confirmed, we will begin the process of determining detail and moving the project forward," she said.

Among the projects under consideration are replacing the aging bandshell at the amphitheater with a more modern design, removing barbed wired fences and replacing the Tricentennial Playground with one that is accessible by people with disabilities.

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Peoria Park District recreation center to get $2M renovation

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