Next step in plan to privatize Wildlife Prairie State Park

By WEEK Producer

November 30, 2012 Updated Nov 30, 2012 at 8:36 PM CDT

EDWARDS, Ill. -- Wildlife Prairie State Park could soon return to being privately owned and operated.

A group is teaming up with local leaders in Springfield in hopes of making make that happen.

A hearing in Springfield next Tuesday could help determine the future of the park. At that time the Illinois House will conduct a hearing on proposed legislation that would transfer possession of the park from the state to the Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park.

The move to privatize the park is primarily a result of the difficulty the state is having providing funding.

State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (D- 92nd District) is encouraging interested members of the community to attend the hearing.

"Time is of the essence with this," said Gordon-Booth. "We have to get this done in an expeditious fashion. We have about 7 more days that we will be adjourned before the new general assembly comes in and then, if this doesn't happen before then we'll have to start from scratch."

Bill Cirone, the president of an organization called Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park, says assuming control of the park fits with other projects in the Peoria area.

"With the Peoria Zoo, with the new CAT Visitors Center, it just fits in as one more destination that needs that revitalization," explained Cirone.

The hearing on privatizing Wildlife Prairie State Park will be held Tuesday at 1 p.m., in Room C-1 of the Stratton Building on the State Capitol Grounds.