A defining moment has just taken place in our history! Something that occurs once, perhaps twice in a lifetime. On January 18, one of the most significant projects in the history of Peoria was unveiled. In terms of cost of construction, in overall grandeur and in pure economic impact, it will be the equal of the Peoria Civic Center in size and significance.

Follow that with the unthinkable, a decision to locate this project in downtown Peoria. We are talking about the Lakeview Regional Museum of Art, History, Science and Technology.

There are many important aspects of this project that should not—but likely will be— missed. Let’s start with who is behind it. It’s no small feat that the boards of Lakeview Museum and the Peoria Historical Society, as well as other special focus groups, have been able to set aside their individual identities for the greater good and this grand cause.

Old, proud and significant organizations do not easily set aside their heritage, their traditions, their assets and their identities. But they have. Follow this significant event with another of equal magnitude. The address of 1125 W. Lake Avenue has been home to the Lakeview Museum for nearly 40 years. It was and still is a beautiful setting.

We all know how hard it is to leave home, but sometimes it’s necessary if we are to grow as individuals and organizations. Their decision to pick up and move, to commit their fate and future to downtown Peoria is a decision of tremendous faith, courage and emotion. We owe them our admiration and thanks.

The announcement has been made. A commitment of intent has been offered to construct a $55 million project in the downtown heart of Peoria, near our greatest city asset—the riverfront. Since the official announcement, weeks have passed as you now read this.

Where were the parades, the celebrations, the congratulations, the champagne and the official "thank you" from a grateful city and community? What would have happened if a major corporation had announced their intent to locate a $55 million project in Peoria? Surely the key to the city would have been given in celebration.

It’s time to recognize the historical significance of this announcement. Again, these types of opportunities don’t happen often … and when they do we must have the vision and focus to capatalize on them. Will we sit quietly, indifferent, as we often are, argumentative with a "wait and see" attitude? Will we criticize, complain and spend our energy looking for reasons not to support or embrace it?

 This project needs your business and personal support if it is to succeed. An opportunity of immense significance is before each and every one of us. It is a moment of truth. If the saying "if you don’t grow, you die" is true, then our city will die if that’s the attitude we adopt.

This is a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the vision of the museum collaborative group and be able to say 20 years from now, "I can’t imagine the riverfront without the museum, much as we say today as we’re helping the Peoria Civic Center celebrate its anniversary.

This project needs ownership. Each of us needs to "own" this new Museum or it will not happen! Here is the opportunity for a community project such as we have not seen for more than 20 years. Something to instill ownership, pride and the satisfaction of pulling together to accomplish something truly great! Celebrate Peoria! IBI