PEORIA, IL -- The Riverfront Park sale of 6 plus acres for a city-subsidized apartment complex is still as wrong as before, even if it has been "improved."
Here's the Journal Star's story on the June 29 meeting, called to consider the next step, the rezoning of the property. The so-called improvements to the site were also on display.
The zoning meeting and hearing takes place at 1 pm on Tuesday, July 7 in the City Hall chambers. The public can testify.
Here's what I plan to say, to be presented in written form before the meeting to the city staff person, Kim Smith, who will get it to the zoning commission. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The commission must address nine aspects of the rezoning, to determine whether they have a "negative impact." One of the most important is the impact on "the health, safety and general welfare of the City in the general and immediate area of the property...."
This project of 143 apartments is to be squeezed between two chemical plants, with emissions and noise, and a railroad track with about six noisy trains passing daily, long trains that take five minutes or more to pass by.
Some of these trains carry hazardous, flammable liquids, and we've all seen what can happen with these trains leave their tracks.
When the trains are going by, the site is isolated from fire, police and ambulances, surely a safety hazard.
But that's not all. The apartments and parking lots will be constructed atop toxic waste, that will be "capped," supposedly to keep it beneath the surface, according to Chris Setti, the city staff member handling the project. Waste from the site construction will be made into a berm, also to be "capped," he said.
I recall the furor over the toxic waste dump on the outskirts of Peoria, which was shut down after the public demanded it. Extensive research showed the danger of such sites to health. And no housing was proposed for that capped site.
The city should not be promoting housing at this environmentally dangerous site which could affect the health of the residents. It's fine for a park, but not for living.
In addition, the project will add perhaps 300 vehicles to a street and parking lot. That will result in runoff from rainfall, carrying oil, grease, tire material and other toxins down the slope and into the nearby Illinois River. That's a negative impact on the river, which does not need any more pollutants.
There apparently is no plan to mitigate this rainwater runoff except storm drains which can be overwhelmed when heavy rain occurs.
As for the berm, what happens when rain water erodes it? More toxins into the river, apparently.
A wrought iron fence is to be constructed along the railroad tracks to keep children off the tracks. Really? Children love to climb fences, and since no playground is shown in the plans, that may be their chief interest.
How many children are expected to live in these apartments? No one knows. That's not the demographic the developers want, Setti said, but plans call for 72 two bedroom and 18 three bedroom units, and it's illegal to discriminate against renters with children.
There inevitably will be some babies and school-age kids, sleeping next to chemical plants, playing near the trains, perhaps sneaking out of their apartments and playing, unsupervised, very near the river.
Imagine -- an unsupervised child falls or jumps into the river, someone calls 911, the train goes by, and by the time rescuers arrive, it's too late.
This project is a health, safety and environmental nightmare, and should not be constructed.
The highest and best use for this site is a park.
-- Elaine Hopkins