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 is the creation of a Reading Garden adjacent to the Fondulac District Library. While the Foundation’s most immediate focus will be development of the triangular property at the same location, to be named “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 Fondulac Bank; and Dennis Triggs of Miller, Hall & Triggs, LLC is Secretary/Treasurer. Board members include Genna Buhr representing the Fondulac District Library; Robert Dittmer of Fondulac Bank; Matthew Mamer with CEFCU; East Peoria Mayor John Kahl; Former East Peoria Mayor David Mingus; 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 a focal point of the City’s Levee District. The approximately 1.5-acre site will be designed to be as beautiful and functional for special events and concerts as it will be for day-to-day activities. At this point in planning, the park will feature the ideal mix of hardscape and landscaping to provide an oasis for residents and visitors alike. It will also feature an interactive fountain and ample green space to attract families with children. In addition, it will feature a pavilion designed to provide shade for a casual lunch or to offer a stage for small concerts.
What has been completed with the park and what’s next?
The Foundation has already received significant donations from important community supporters, which provided funding for Phase I, the Reading Garden. It’s beautiful, and the library is enjoying this new space with fun events for kids and interesting classes for adults. The Foundation and the City of East Peoria look forward to completing Phase II in 2021, estimated to be about $900,000. Among the elements included in Phase II are a large multi-purpose plaza, construction of restrooms, installation of utilities, a performance stage, and other infrastructure work. Fundraising for Phase III is now underway, which is anticipated to cost $1.4 million. Plans include a beautiful water feature and splash pad for children. Levee Park will provide 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?
Nearly all of the funds raised for Phase I and Phase II have been private. Generous community donors and businesses have stepped up with gifts to the Foundation. 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. 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?
As the foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, all donations made to it are tax-deductible. Just go to www.eastpeoriacommunityfoundation.org to learn more about donation and volunteer opportunities.