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Removal of a Peoria community garden causes confusion, hurt for property owner

Courtesy Abigail Larrison
Abigail Larrison says this is what remains of one of her three rose bushes at the Community House, 800 W. Thrush, after the community development department removed most of the vegetation from her community garden.

The tender of a community garden several years in the making on the city's Center Bluff says she's "heartbroken" after Peoria's community development department removed it.

But the department's director said the property was in such a state that it was hard to tell what was actually being maintained, and what wasn't.

Abigail Larrison and others had planted a garden at the Community House, 800 W. Thrush. Larrison said items removed include vegetables, herbs, blueberry and raspberry bushes, and an apple tree.

After a complaint about tall grass was filed with community development, Larrison received a notice on July 12 ordering her to clean up the property. But she said she was out of town on vacation for two weeks, beginning on the 11th.

When she returned to Peoria, she said the garden was gone.

thumbnail_July 12 b.jpg
Joe Dulin
City of Peoria
Director of community development Joe Dulin said the contractor mainly cut grass on the Community House property and left landscaping in place, like these painted tree stumps.

Community development director Joe Dulin said a work order was issued on July 18 after no one followed up on the initial notice. It was completed on July 22.

Dulin said a contractor mainly cut weeds and pulled grass. He said workers avoided anything that looked like landscaping or was being actively maintained.

Dulin said Larrison requested reimbursement, which she can file for through the city's claims process.

Dulin said he also offered to have a staff member meet her at the garden to point out what was a part of her garden and what she's planning going forward, but she declined.

Larrison said she hopes for better communication from code enforcement in the future.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.