Elmhurst Restores Town Dignity by Squashing Hoop House


by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – A collective sigh of relief was felt throughout Elmhurst last week as an administrative judge ordered a local family to remove their unsightly backyard membrane structure (commonly referred to as a “hoop house” and bearing no aesthetic value whatsoever) by the end of February, or face fines from the city.

Rising a couple of feet above every privacy fence in the neighborhood and constructed primarily with plain one-inch PVC piping and HDX six-millimeter polyethylene clear plastic sheeting typically used by painters and axe murderers, the now-famous hoop house built by Fairview resident Nicole Virgil and her family for the purpose of gardening during the winter left many citizens wondering over the last several weeks if the backyards throughout their town would eventually resemble “Tijuana junkyards” had the city upheld its unofficially-official stance on the subject, which inexplicably allowed the ghastly 12 x 20 foot atrocity to exist over the previous two winters.

“I’ll be happy when this nightmare is over,” said N. Van Auken resident Karen O’Neil, who admitted that the only time she’s ever driven through the Virgils’ neighborhood located west of Spring Road was when she got lost trying to find parking for the Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade a few years ago. “I don’t have to see it every day to know that I don’t want it in my town.”

Residents who live closer to the Virgils’ home echoed what the overwhelming majority of Elmhurst residents feel about the hoop house.

“Until all this came up in the news, I thought they had a speedboat or an RV tucked under there to prevent it from the winter elements, which was cool with me,” said Jeff Canseco, who lives one block west of the Virgils and can point to the exact spot on his street where anyone driving by can clearly see the peak of the 9-foot tall hoop house if they are heading southbound and traveling at less than 10 miles per hour. “But to grow vegetables in the winter in a town that has both a Mariano’s and a Whole Foods? That’s ridiculous.”

In addition to the dreadful sight of the structure – which one neighbor reports is 100% visible from both her deck and her bedroom terrace – Elmhurst residents have also accused the Virgils of using their winter harvest in a lucrative summer business called “Fairfield Produce”, where their children are forced to sell vegetables from the front yard for two full hours each and every Saturday morning from June through August.

“I’ve had to wait a couple of times while the kids try to figure out how much change I have coming back to me when I drop down a hundred dollar bill for six bucks worth of kale,” said Brendon Cooper, who added that he only shops at Fairview Produce because it’s easier to keep an eye on his Range Rover when he’s away from the vehicle. “If they’re struggling with that, then you know their parents are skimming off the top of the kitty. Where is that money going?”.

The Virgils are reportedly exploring all other options before surrendering to the city and removing the hoop house. 

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