Park district holds off decision on Columbus statue

Peoria Park District
Peoria Park District(25 News Now)
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 1:23 PM CDT
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PEORIA (WMBD Radio) - The future of Peoria’s Christopher Columbus statue is not fully known, but it may not be seen in the River City again.

The park district voted to remove the statue in the fall of 2020 after national controversies were raised in that time over Columbus’ treatment of Native Americans.

Peoria Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill says there’s a few options the district has for the statue.

She says that includes keeping the statue in storage, selling it, or placing the statue back in a public space.

Cahill says the third option doesn’t seem possible because the feelings of the board has not changed much over the past few years.

“Ultimately, our board made the decision and gave the direction to remove the Columbus statue from Bradley Park, and I don’t see necessarily that sentiment has changed,” Cahill said.

The most likely option at the moment, Cahill says, is getting the statue appraised for a sale, which the park district is currently working on.

Money from the sale of the statue could fund a new piece of artwork in Bradley Park where the Columbus statue sold. West Bluff residents are seeking a new statue, and the issue was discussed at a trustee meeting Wednesday.

Cahill says the residents have an idea in mind, a statue of the Greek goddess of youth Hebe. But adds that finding the funds to purchase or construct one is a different matter.

“Without pricing and without more detail about how we would fund it and what it would look like and exactly where it would go, there’s a lot of details to be determined as part of a proposal that needs to come back to the board for them to make a specific decision that we just don’t have yet,” Cahill said.

In addition to funding it with the sale of the Columbus statue, Cahill says fundraising is another option.