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Christopher Columbus statue removal could cost up to $18,000

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PEORIA (WEEK) -- In a 4-2 vote on Wednesday, the Peoria Park District decided it will remove the controversial Christopher Columbus statue. A move their president, Robert Johnson, stands by.

"I was concerned about our community, what it was doing to our community. And I did not want Peoria separated, tore up," said Johnson.

The park district estimated the removal could cost them up to $18,000. Johnson said it was about more than the money.

"Somethings you just can't put a price on money wise because this was important to me that we used that type of money, and I don't think its going to be 18 thousand to be honest with you," Johnson said, "but I don't think the money was an issue for us in this case than our city being divided and our city being fractured."

Libby Tronnes, an assistant history professor at Bradley University, was part of the series of meetings held by the park district in discussion of the statue.

"It was clear from the beginning that people cared about this issue and they cared about the statue, the fate of the statue, and I like that Peoria's diverse community was displayed in the participants," said Tronnes.

Cultural arts educator, Garry Moore said the removal of the statue is just the first step for the city.

"The next step is to come to grips with our curriculum in the schools and that's not just the Peoria Public Schools, that's the school districts in outlying areas, throughout the country. What do you want your fifth, sixth, seventh and eight grader to know about Christopher Columbus?" said Moore.

The park district said they're looking forward to hearing feedback from the community on what could replace it. The removal process will begin sometime this fall.

Paige Blanzy

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