The Bonne Terre City Council met in regular session Monday night and during the meeting they discussed a recent halfway house proposal and the Legacy Project.
Several residents were in attendance and voiced their concerns regarding a presentation the planning and zoning board heard last week on a halfway house proposal.
Three residents spoke on the matter and all agreed that it would not be a good fit for the city of Bonne Terre. It was brought up that they are already burdened with a prison within the city and within 30 miles there are three prisons, a sexual offenders program, a halfway house, four county jails, two drug treatment centers, as well as mental health facilities.
Alderwoman Andrea Richardson said for the record that she had been approached by several residents in her ward and has received an overwhelming amount of negative responses regarding a proposed facility moving to Bonne Terre.
Aldermen Bruce Pratte and Erik Schonhardt both agreed with Richardson. Mayor Brandon Hubbard said that was the feedback they had from a lot of the citizens. He said no one was in favor of it.
“They came to us, that needs to be cleared up, we didn’t know anything about it until last week,” said Hubbard. “I don’t think anybody has anything to worry about.”
Later in the meeting, Hubbard said it spoke volumes that Dr. Junaid Syed was not there to talk with the council after he had requested the proposal be placed on the agenda Monday.
Also during the meeting, Bonne Terre Public Works Superintendent Shawn Kay spoke about the Bonne Terre Legacy Project.
“As you are aware, this is our stab at trying to have some of the lead remediation done in the city of Bonne Terre,” said Kay. “We entered into an agreement with Mr. Mike Alesandrini to help us work through the process to make that happen.”
Kay said everyone is well aware of the lead contamination that they have along the railroad tracks, the flooding issues and the Superfund site.
“What we are hoping to do is tap the ASARCO Funding or any other Department of Natural Resources or the EPA or any other monies to mitigate that, so it continually quits running into the Turkey Creek Water Shed,” said Kay. “We have had some pretty good meetings with Mr. Alesandrini and if there are any questions I will be meeting with him soon.”
Kay said after they sat down with him to go over the bulk of the issues across town, he had a very good idea of what the city needs moving forward.
Bonne Terre’s heritage is linked to the lead mining industry that supported an entire region known as the “Old Lead Belt.” The mining industry grew and supported the region for nearly three centuries, with the city of Bonne Terre at its heart.
According to Alesandrini's report, attached to that heritage is a legacy of residual impacts of 300 years of extensive lead mining activity within the city, which needs to be addressed to assure healthy, sustainable community well into the future. Several of those impacts have already been remedied by responsible parties, as well as state and federal agencies.
There are several areas of concern that still need to be addressed and it’s the intention of the city’s leaders to call attention to and provide a resolution for those concerns. A program of work has been developed to identify specific areas of concern and to engage agency/elected officials to address outstanding public health and ecological issues, while also enhancing opportunities for public access and enjoyment inaccessible or underutilized public space throughout the community.
Some areas the city hopes to address includes the former railroad beds that run through the city and are believed to be constructed with materials with high concentrations of lead. Many of these tracts run in the immediate vicinity of parks, ball fields and residential neighborhoods. They also clearly impact Turkey Creek from one end of town to the other.
The tracts are subject to considerable erosion with material washing into Turkey Creek and its tributaries, which empty directly into Big River just north of the city. The east side experiences flooding during high volume rain affecting heavily trafficked roadways.
The Bonne Terre Legacy Project’s objectives are to affect ecological conditions within the city and to diminish potentially deleterious impacts of stormwater run-off carrying lead sediment into the water and to positively affect public health by limiting exposure to lead sediment for those living, working, playing near affected areas.
Within this project they hope to remediate and restore several areas around town, improve existing stormwater infrastructure, implement elements of the parks and create a municipal service road on a former railroad bed.