Photos courtesy of the Village of Peoria Heights
Build Peoria is the community-minded organization behind the new Duryea Dog Park in Peoria Heights. It started as an idea last July. The organization went live in September, raised funds for the project at a chili cook-off in October, and by December it was handing off the park to the Village of Peoria Heights. Peoria Magazines spoke with Build Peoria’s president, Nick Yates, about the dog park, the organization and its plans for 2018.
Is Build Peoria focused on the Heights specifically, or the larger area?
Build Peoria’s goal is to unite the community through their love of the Peoria area to physically Build Peoria into a better place and leave a legacy for future generations. Note the emphasis on the Peoria area. The first project was in the Heights, but our goal is to better the Peoria area and are open to ideas in all of the Peoria area.
How did you decide to focus on the dog park as your first project?
We all united around a common goal: Build Peoria wants to be a community celebration that also raises funds, making the Peoria area better, one project at a time. When we brainstormed on projects that all of the community can benefit from and can be built relatively quickly with the funds we hoped to raise at our event (~$40,000), we started socializing a dog park with the Village of Peoria Heights. After some more asking around the area, we knew we were onto something and went from idea to park in 16 weeks.
What was the village's involvement in the project?
We could not have done this, let alone so quickly, without the Village of Peoria Heights. Within an hour of me emailing Mayor Phelan, he responded and set up a meeting the next day! After a few brainstorming sessions with him and Administrator Fick, he allowed us to partner with the Public Works Director, Kyle Smith. Kyle not only helped us plan a great event in Tower Park (at no cost to us), but also provided his and his crews expertise on how to make the park successful.
What are your plans for 2018?
We are excited to build a membership in 2018 that will tell us how we can give back in 2018. We think we can revolutionize small-format fundraising by empowering our members to make the decision on where to build in 2018. We plan on doing a membership drive in March where we will ask members for their ideas on how to give back this year. Once we get all the ideas, the board will narrow the choices down to five, and all members will get an equal vote on our 2018 project. Once we pick a project, we will spend the year in preparation for an October event similar to the chili cookoff we had last year.
Anything else you wish to add?
Build Peoria recognizes that there are a lot of generous people in the Peoria area that have contributed greatly to life changing charities. We want to connect that generation to our generation of millennials and join forces to make a difference in our community. We believe that the future of fundraising is not 10 people giving $10,000, but rather 1,000 people giving $100. PS
For more information, visit buildpeoria.org. Read "A Village Ascends," in the Mar/Apr 2018 issue of Art & Society, to learn how the newly-opened dog park fits in with the vision of the Heights as a boutique destination.