Eureka residents battle gravel and sand mining proposal

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CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) – There was a showdown over proposed sand and gravel mine in St. Louis County Monday.

It drew busloads of opponents who rented two school buses to travel from the Eureka area to the St. Louis County Planning Commission meeting in Clayton.

The proposal comes from the Winter Family:  owners of a 4 generation business.  The family has donated 125 acres at a former mining site to the county through the years for George Winter Park.

One opponent told the commission even the park had become a detriment with frequent calls for police disturbances there.

“We moved away from that,” said Kasey Kaiser, holding her 6-month-old daughter, Rita.  “I don’t want that type of activity with that type of park at my house, in my back yard, neither does she,” she said, walking away from the podium to loud applause.

The only people, who spoke in favor the proposed 537 acre sand and gravel mine along the Meramec River on the St. Louis County side of the Eureka border, were representatives of Winter Brothers Materials.

“I want to repeat, we are not a quarry.  There is no blasting,” said company attorney, Greg Hoffmann.

He said the sand and gravel would be sold wholesale for use in concrete; with no dust, limited noise, and the mine not visible from area homes.

“All the traffic going to and from the site would directly access the interstate highway system without ever passing a single residential home,” he said.

But he also told the commission the number of dump trucks coming and going would grow to a peak of 24 an hour within a decade, going through Route 66 State Park, accessing I-44 at the 109 interchange.

That area is known for past accidents including 1 in 2005 when 5 family members died in a collision with a dump truck.

“The outcome of that incident is 5 white crosses in the front lawn of the Steak ‘n Shake in Eureka.  I would call that a detrimental effect,” said Rockwood School Board President, Matt Doell.  “Please, we’re counting on you do to what Eureka has already done and tell them no.”

The company had twice proposed developing the Eureka portion of the land since 2001 but twice withdrawn the proposal amid heavy opposition, most recently last fall.

“They’re estimating long-term that we will have a dump truck in front of our business about every 90 seconds,” said Meg Kociela of Midwest Motors car dealership.  “We have people who drive pre-owned vehicles.  It’s their first time out.  We have safety concerns there.”

“I think when they purchased the property perhaps that would have been a better time to attempt mining of the property.  They’ve been there since 1974, I believe.  Eureka has grown exponentially since then,” said Eureka Alderwoman Carleen Murray.

A final count of those supporting the proposal in the crowd was 7.  There were 116 against.

The planning commission will consider all testimony and documentation before voting at its August meeting.

Their decision will only be a recommendation.  The St. Louis County Council will have the final say.

The St. Louis County Parks Department supports the mine.