Peru eyes Washington Park improvements through grant application

Improvements could include skating rink chillers, fireplaces, locker room facility, other items

Peru officials are exploring a state grant opportunity to help expand amenities around the Washington Park skating rink.

The process is in the early stages and much more planning and decisions need to be made moving forward.

If Peru is awarded the Open Space Lands Acquisition Grant it would be under the premise the city would match the state contributions 50/50 for the planned project, according to city officials.

Director of Parks, Recreation and Special Events Adam Thorson discussed Monday the opportunity presented to him during the July Recreation Board meeting with members of the Peru City Council.

City Finance Director Justin Miller, Mayor Ken Kolowski and Thorson have started the ground work.

“The initial thoughts were to do some maintenance on our existing tennis courts at Washington Park,” Thorson said. “The research suggested that the representatives that score the projects you’re wanting to do, maintenance on an existing structure just don’t score as high.”

The research showed in the past the more unique the recreational developments are, the higher they are traditionally scored and have a better chance of receiving the funds.

Thorson said knowing this information, the recommendation was to focus on expanding the newly-developed ice skating rink.

“Being different, I think, is going to be the key to getting this thing,” Kolowski said. “A lot of people are asking for certain things like tennis courts to be replaced, but ours is completely different and would be more of a winter thing and that should attract people to award us this grant.”

The planned presentation for the OSLAD grant includes chillers and a possible roof structure for the ice rink as well as additional recreational activities, such as bags, fireplaces, bocce ball and an indoor heated bathroom and locker room facility.

Officials would like the facility to serve many purposes for the recreational area including possible skate rentals, concessions, locker rooms and bathrooms.

While this is the plan for now, any or all of the listed amenities could still be left out or altered in the coming weeks.

“To move forward, we are going to get a plan in place, get some support letters out to the schools and have a public meeting,” Thorson said. “Then we’ll go from there and apply for the grant.”

Miller said with council approval the city would like to use time during council meeeting to field input from members of the community.

The deadline for the grant application is Sept. 1 as the city of Peru would eye a quick turnaround if it plans to move forward. The city wouldn’t know if it received the grant until the upcoming winter or spring of 2022.

Jayce Eustice

Covering local government, breaking news and whatever is thrown at me for the La Salle News Tribune