The Peoria Park District Board of Trustees unanimously voted Wednesday to begin the process of exploring the potential removal of the Christopher Columbus statue from Bradley Park.
Those conversations won't kick off until later this year. Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill said the planning committee will compile information on the statue first. The public also will get a say later this year.
"It allows us to get through some of the short-term budget implementation that right now is certainly our top priority to mitigate as much of that $2 million deficit as possible," Cahill said. "We would schedule a public hearing in late August or early September. Hopefully, too, that would allow us to have that meeting either in person, or via Zoom, Facebook, hopefully a combination of those, in order to obtain the maximum amount of public input."
Cahill said the park district doesn't have much precedent for removing a monument from a park, but will model the process after what's used to add a monument.
The statue was erected in the Uplands in 1902 by the company that built the neighborhood. But Columbus has become a controversial symbol of slavery and Native American genocide in recent years, leading to the removal of his monuments and the renaming of Columbus Day in many parts of the country.
Sentiment in the neighborhood is divided, with some arguing the statue has historic value.
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