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AN OASIS OF BEAUTY TO BLOOM

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For years, the north side of 100 North between 500 and 600 East has been an eyesore - a weed-filled patch of ground. But People Preserving Peteetneet aims to change that.

This week, city crews working on behalf of the PPP group began dumping topsoil on the nearly 12,000-square-foot area, which is located outside of Peteetneet Academy. Already, Blair Andreason and his crews have removed the chain-link fence that ran along 100 North and the accompanying overgrowth of weeds and have tilled the soil as well.The work is part of the Pet-eetneet Memorial Gardens project, which involves landscaping the ground and installing sidewalks. Members of the PPP group hope to have brickwork done and a sprinkling system installed by this fall.

"We're finally getting under way. It's going to be wonderful when this is all done," said Gordon Taylor, the group's president.

Landscaping for the project will entail planting rose bushes, climbing bushes, irises, trees and lilac bushes along the fence, concealing it to a certain extent - and beautifying an eyesore, said Coralee Wilson, the project's chairwoman.

"We want it to be really special for residents," she said. "It should be really comfortable, in an old-fashioned sort of way."

Wilson said her family has a long history regarding greenery improvements on the Peteetneet grounds.

"My grandmother (Cora Fairbanks) lived across the street from the school, and she hated looking out on the field there, which was originally nothing but a dirt wall," she said.

Fairbanks began planting irises on the hillside, a 20-year labor of love that took more work than it might seem, especially since at the time there was no irrigation system to water those plants.

"My family had to carry water over there in buckets to water the plants, and it became kind of our family garden," Wilson said.

Eventually, PPP members would also like to install a bird bath, a rock garden and a sundial in the garden, which should complement other renovation and improvement projects on the Peteetneet grounds.

Approximate cost of the garden project is $50,000, which will be paid through a variety of grants the group has received, as well as donations from other individuals and organizations. From Utah Department of Transportation and Utah County grants alone, PPP has gotten more than $150,000 in the past two years.

In addition to finishing up the memorial gardens work, members of the group will use the $100,000 they received from the UDOT highway enhancement grant to repair the roof and brickwork on the Peteetneet Academy and make some seismic upgrading. Total cost of that work is not known yet.

Other restoration and improvement projects the group would like to start within the next two years include turning the school grounds into a park and walkway, complete with a fountain. A statue of Ute Indian leader Peteetneet, for which the school and many other local sites in Payson were named, is planned.