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Last month the local citizens leading the efforts to create the Peoria Riverfront Museum unveiled plans that, while scaling back the size of the facility, kept this important project within their proposed budget and moving forward toward completion in a few years.

To stay within projected costs—something that is rare these days—officials have revised the layout of the museum but retained plenty of space to accommodate what will truly be a one-of-akind experience. Coupled with the proposed Caterpillar Visitor’s Center, this site promises to be not only a destination for local residents, but one that will draw visitors from around the world.

I applaud museum officials who have taken a practical approach to this project. They faced reality, and, instead of asking for more money, went back to the drawing board to create a plan that would fit within the $65 million price tag.

Projects on this scale often go through changes as they get closer to becoming reality. The entire look of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was changed from the initial plans for the buildings, and I don’t believe the changes to the Peoria Riverfront Museum are any different. The facility will retain a distinctive look which is in line with the uniqueness of what will be inside. After all, it is what the museum actually contains which will be the draw.

Although the plans have changed, the museum continues to be a facility which promises to have no rival in the area. Peoria has such a great story to tell. Whiskey barons, the Illinois River and high school sports are just a few of the topics which will make this museum unique from all others. Together with the Caterpillar Visitor’s Center, the museum block will be an anchor for downtown activities for future generations.

The Peoria City Council has been asked by museum leaders to approve the proposed changes to their plans. I believe the Council should support this prudent effort to live within the budget as proposed for the project. As Jim Richerson, president of Lakeview Museum noted, “We have certainly achieved a more efficient design. Again, I stress, there is nothing like this in Illinois.”

At the same time, I urge folks in the Peoria area to step forward and assist with fundraising efforts for the museum. Whether the dollar amount is small or large, private donations are an absolutely critical part of this project. This museum will be a lasting legacy for this generation, and what greater way to contribute to that legacy than by making a donation to help build the facility?

The revitalization of Peoria’s downtown over the past two decades has been tremendous. With the Civic Center, the ballpark and the riverfront, our community has created a dynamic destination where people come to live, work and play. The Peoria Riverfront Museum is the next step in this revitalization. IBI

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