PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Three abandoned houses were demolished on Tuesday to make room for a new park in Peoria’s Southside.
POTENT Gratitude Park is the vision of Bob Woolsey, Hedy Elliot and Pastor Alvin Riley. Build Peoria, a group committed to making Peoria more beautiful, raised $70,000 for the project, its fifth one.
JIMAX Demolition Company tore down three vacant houses next to Sovereign Grace Mission Baptist Church on Tuesday. The homes were regarded as eyesores by residents for many years.
Woolsey said its incredible to see houses finally come down.
“It feels great, yeah. Jim from JIMAX said we’ll probably have dirt, seed planted, and complete clear area by Friday. Its amazing how quickly they can work….Great things happen when the whole community comes together to make a difference,” he said.
The new green space will be across the street from the Proctor Center on the Southside of Peoria. Woolsey said the park will improve the neighborhood.
“When you have three blighted houses that just feel ‘not good’ in a neighborhood, to go to a space where you can create a dream, create a place for people to focus on what’s good, its exciting,” he said.
Marcellus Sommerville, who is involved with the project, agreed.
“It will help the community because it will be a safe space, a space they can play and be active,” he said.
Sommerville said the demolition is a testament to a vision becoming reality.
“I think it started from just an idea and to see two years later come to fruition, has been an extreme blessing for the POTENT Gratitude Park,” he said.
Woolsey said POTENT Gratitude Park will feature a pavilion, benches and picnic tables for the community to enjoy.
“Grass…Pavilion…People able to go there for family reunions, weddings, time after funerals, time after church, birthday parties…Just a place to gather that’s maybe a little more private than some other parks,” he said.
Woolsey said the park should be completed by this fall.