County's relationship with developer troubling
Letter to the editor
To the editor:
Regarding the present Cliff Cave Park/Twin Hollow Development that has been in the news, I feel it is time to give somewhat of a background to this matter of which most citizens are unaware.
On March 15, 2002, St. Louis County entered into a contract with Bussen Quarries Inc. for work to be done as an improvement to Cliff Cave County Park.
The major scope of work was to raise the level on the flood-plain portion of the park from approximately a 405-foot elevation to approximately a 422-foot elevation.
This is as indicated on the Cliff Cave County Park grading plan dated Jan. 6, 2002, as approved by the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic on March 18, 2002. The work was to be accomplished by hauling overburden — shot rock — from the quarry to the park.
However, as the fill work continued past the south boundary line of Cliff Cave Park, I inquired of the parks department if they had purchased additional land. They advised not, but continually stated through many phone calls, letters and visits to the department that they were unsure of what was being done on the adjacent property.
This seemed very suspicious in that the park improvement had never been advertised to the public. The fill hauling to the adjacent property known as Twin Hollow Associates continues on a work-day basis from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The work on the park is unfinished and has a completion date of March 15, 2004, at which time a $50,000 guarantee bond is due if uncompleted.
This is apparently going to continue since, as part of the pending Bill No. 465 as introduced by Councilman Campisi, an 18-month extension of this hauling will be authorized. At a recent public meeting, Mr. Campisi announced that he is "all for this piece of legislation," which he introduced, and "will push to get it through the County Council."
Cliff Cave Park is designated a "Heritage Park" in Section 616.250, Natural Heritage Park regulations of county records.
These regulations state, in part, "The director of parks and recreation shall protect the natural features in a Natural Heritage Park, including forests, existing elevations, wildlife and wildlife habitat, water-courses and wetlands." Section 6 of these regulations states, "This designation may not be changed, nor may an amendment or an exception be made, without the approval of a majority of the qualified voters of St. Louis County voting thereon."
I don't recall any amendment being presented to the voters, and the context of 616.250 is readily available on the Internet. The 40-foot-wide hauling route now being used for the benefit of the private developer has resulted in live trees being cut down, which is not allowed at a Heritage Park, and a muddy/rocky mess for visitors on the weekend to traverse.
I feel that the parks department is doing an admirable job for our community with all of the attractions and programs that are offered. I do, however, think they are making a big mistake in the continued hauling through the park for the benefit of a private developer. It just doesn't make any sense.
Why are we paying taxes on a Heritage Park that has already been devastated, in part, for the benefit of a private business?
Bussen Quarries is only doing what is stated in its contract with the county, and in my opinion should not receive any negative reactions in this matter.
What really seems suspicious is the relationship between the parks department and Twin Hollow Associates. You may want to share your thoughts and opinions with the parks department by visiting www.stlouisco.com/parks or by calling 615-5454.