Peoria nonprofit faces opposition from community leader over changes

PEORIA — Friendship House is about to receive money to renovate its building, but at least one neighborhood association leader opposes the expansion.

Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service is seeking to modify an existing special use that would allow for renovations at 800 NE Madison Ave. The nonprofit — which provides food, mentorship and educational resources to community members — plans to open the facility’s parking lot, create a walkway, build a new shelter covered auto and add additional terrain to the special use area.

The Peoria City Council is due to vote on the issue at its Tuesday meeting.

The Peoria Planning and Zoning Commission already voted in favor of the amendment at their July 7 meeting, but not without dissent.

Tim Herold, a local neighborhood association leader, opposed the renovations, according to an email he wrote to the Planning and Zoning Commission. It was read in session. In it, he claimed that the Friendship House site is “the epicenter of litter and prostitution in the North Valley” and asked that the Zoning Commission vote to recommend stricter conditions on special use. , including prohibiting Friendship House from creating a passageway. .

The Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service, 800 NE Madison Avenue, is a nonprofit organization that provides food, educational resources, and other services to community members in need.

Marcellus Sommerville, President and CEO of Friendship House, acknowledged that prostitution on or near the Friendship House site was a problem. He said collaboration between Friendship House leaders and law enforcement, as well as conversations with people involved in illegal activities, was effective in resolving the issue. He said there had been a sharp drop in incidents in recent months.

Somerville added that most of the feedback he receives about Friendship House is positive.

“I usually don’t get any complaints,” he said. “I usually get a lot of love, a lot of appreciation, for what we do.”

Somerville said staff at Friendship House plan to begin renovations as soon as they receive the green light from city council.

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