Peoria Park District Board Approves Temporary Cost-Saving Closures

Jun 25, 2020

The Peoria Park District Board of Trustees has approved temporary closures at three facilities as a cost saving measure.

 The board voted Wednesday to temporarily close the Franciscan Recreation Center (FRC), Glen Oak Amphitheater, and a portion of the AquaPlex to trim the district's $2 million budget deficit created by financial losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 The vote to close the FRC was a close 4-3. Some board members said they fear the temporary closure is the first step in permanently shutting down the West Peoria facility.

 But board members moved to reopen the lap and therapy pools as soon as the governor's guidelines allow after the public pushed back against those aspects of the temporary closure, at a cost of about $55,000 worth of savings.

 Board member Joseph Cassidy said the cons outweigh the pros.

 "I don't think that minimal savings justifies the putting out everybody who's put input in and has reached out to us not to close the AquaPlex," he said.

 Most of the board agreed with that line of reasoning. Board member Nancy Snowden was the sole "no" vote.

 "On a temporary basis, people can go to other solutions. And I know they don't like. I don't like it. I'm really against it," Snowden said. "But we keep putting the pressure on staff to come up with reductions, and then we turn them away."

 The park district operates the area jointly with OSF that agreed with the recommendation to close the AquaPlex for the rest of the year. Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill said she will forward the public input weighing against closure to OSF, but said there's a chance aqua therapy won't come back this year even if the pools open.

The temporarily closures cut the $2 million deficit in half, but there's still a need for the park district to make layoffs or dip into reserve funds to balance the budget.

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