Park District rejects offers from District 150 and Wal-Mart

By Audrey Wise

June 26, 2013 Updated Jun 27, 2013 at 9:56 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- There was a standing ovation for the park board Wednesday night as they voted down two items relating to the Peoria Stadium land.

First the citizens concerns were heard.

"Walmart lowers prices, including your property value."

"Let's protect the green space that we already have, Wal-Mart can go somewhere else."

"I am staying here because of all those gems, those are the things that keep me here so I hope that they stay that way."

Those were just some of the public comments of more than a dozen concerned citizens who spoke at the meeting.

Some expressed their thoughts through song, "You don't know whatcha got 'til it's gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot" sang one community member.

At issue, was a more than $1.1 million offer from District 150 to end the long standing park district lease more than 20 years early.

Also, a proposal from Wal-Mart to move the park district area to the back portion of the land near Lake street.

"And I would propose that we would reject the offer outlined in Dr. David Kinney's letter," suggested Park Board Trustee Nancy Snowden.

It was a unanimous rejection and another unanimous rejection of Wal-Mart's proposal.

Both votes were followed by standing ovations.

Park Board members strongly support the community's position and agree green space, like the stadium land, adds to the quality of life in Peoria.

Park Board President Tim Cassidy said, "I am not in favor of converting this publicly owned land to a private commercial development quite frankly for any price, whether it's $1.2 million or higher, this is invaluable land."

Park board members hope they can now work with District 150 and
the City to come up with a solution to meet the needs of everyone.

While it's not guaranteed, they are hoping they put the Wal-Mart issue to rest.

"The community spoke on this issue and hopefully it will just go away now," said Cassidy.

A District 150 Spokesperson commented on the vote saying, "the exploration of the stadium property's future is only at the beginning of a long process. As a District, there is a lot to consider before moving forward."