What is the East Peoria Community Foundation (EPCF)?

The Foundation is comprised of volunteers who live and/or do business in East Peoria. It is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 2014 with the goal of making East Peoria a better place and providing a channel for local philanthropy for the benefit of the community. The EPCF’s initial project was the creation of a Reading Garden adjacent to the Fondulac District Library.  Today, our focus is on the development of Levee Park.  Set in the heart of the Levee District, adjacent to City Hall and the Fondulac District Library, Levee Park will feature a performance stage, a spectacular water feature, venues for markets and festivals in an open multipurpose lawn, space for sporting and music events, and terraced seating areas. Designed to be family-friendly, the park will also accommodate daily activities, such as casual strolling, gathering, and outdoor dining from adjacent restaurants. While the Foundation is focused on building Levee Park, its scope will go far beyond that in the future as projects are presented and resources are available.

Who’s on the board of directors of the EPCF?

The board President is Susan Yoder Portscheller, retired from CEFCU; Cindy Reinhart is Vice President, retired from Morton Community Bank; and Dennis Triggs is Secretary/Treasurer, retired from Miller, Hall & Triggs. Board members include Genna Buhr representing the Fondulac District Library; Robert Dittmer retired from Morton Community Bank; Matthew Mamer with CEFCU; East Peoria Mayor John Kahl; Diane Cullinan Oberhelman of Cullinan Properties, Ltd.; and Gary Uftring of the Uftring Auto Group. Ty Livingston serves as the City Liaison.

What is the Levee Park Project?

The park project is the focal point of the City’s Levee District. The approximately 1 ½ acre site between Washington and Richland Streets will be designed to be as beautiful and functional for special events and concerts as it will be for day-to-day activities. The park will feature the ideal mix of hardscape and landscaping to provide an oasis for residents and visitors alike. It will feature a performance stage, a splash pad for children, and ample green space for all to enjoy.

What has been completed with the park and what’s next?

The total Levee Park project is about $3 million. The initial phase, the Reading Garden has been completed. The second phase is in process and will be completed in Spring 2024. This phase includes a community stage, public restrooms, electrical infrastructure, walking paths, and landscaping. With thanks to businesses and individuals who’ve made generous contributions, the park has been fully funded through these two phases.

The last phase of Levee Park will include a splash pad/playable fountain for children and terraced seating for the community stage. It’s anticipated to cost about $1 million and will be completed in 2024. Another $500,000 is still needed to complete this last phase.  The Foundation is in the last stretch of fundraising and hopes to close this $500,000 gap within the next six months. We are appealing to the citizens and businesses connected to East Peoria to help close this shortfall.

Levee Park will provide a venue for markets and festivals in an open multipurpose lawn, space for sporting and music events, and terraced seating areas. Designed to be family-friendly, the park will also accommodate daily activities, such as casual strolling, gathering, and outdoor dining from adjacent restaurants.  It will be a centrally located community and family gathering place. 

We can all appreciate the value of parks and public spaces for the community to enjoy.  What’s special and unique here is that Levee Park will be the anchor to East Peoria’s new and thriving downtown. It not only anchors our beautiful new downtown, but it embodies the new iconic face of East Peoria – green, growing, and family centered.

Is the park using any government funding?

The goal has always been to build Levee Park without asking East Peoria citizens for any tax funds. Local businesses and community supporters have stepped up with generous gifts to the Foundation. Additionally, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity awarded Levee Park a $500,000 grant in 2021. We are pleased East Peoria was selected as the Illinois community to receive these public funds. In 2022, the City of East Peoria and the Foundation received a matching grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The grant is the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program for $400,000. This grant requires a 50% match. The public can help the Foundation reach the 50% match with their generous donations to build Levee Park.  The City of East Peoria owns the land on which the park is being constructed ensuring the park will be a public benefit for all to enjoy. 

How can I be a part of the park and its development?

There are lots of ways you can support Levee Park and the East Peoria Community Foundation. Right now, the best way to help build the park is with a donation. Any amount is appreciated! Just click on the “Donations” button. 

Did you know you can designate all or part of your Heart of Illinois United Way direct gift or payroll deduction gift to the East Peoria Community Foundation?  Also, the East Peoria Community Foundation is a Caterpillar match charity. Eligible Caterpillar participants may request an annual total maximum match of $10,000 USD each calendar year. To initiate your Caterpillar Foundation match, go to https://www.caterpillar.com/en/company/caterpillar-foundation/matching-gifts.html to submit your request.  And you can become a volunteer – from landscaping to maintenance, we need volunteers.

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