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No agreement on the sand mine yet

GLENWOOD CITY — At the City Council meeting of February 3 the council met with Vista Sand over the Proposed Pre-Annexation Mining Agreement and then the council went into closed session and came back with a number of changes that they would like to see.

At this Monday night’s meeting the council reviewed Vista Sand’s response to those changes. Some of the changes would be Vista Sand countering with paying the city fifteen cents a ton payment for each ton of sand removed from the site just south of the city limits. They had originally proposed seven cents a ton. They also had an escalating clause that would increase that tonnage figure by two cents every five years. Vista’s proposal indicates that they plan to remove from 500,000 to one million tons a year from the mine site. At fifteen cents a ton the city could receive $75,000 to $150,000 a year in royalty payments.

Vista Sand is also agreeing to the 60-decibel noise level as requested by the council and they will limit trucking to six days a week and the city is asking that the private well guarantee be extended for every well within a half mile of the site. That would include most of the private wells in Downing. But here was a stumbling block between the City and Vista. Vista had proposed to cover all the wells on the west side of Downing’s First Street, but now proposed to also cover the wells on the east side of First Street. What they propose is that they test these private wells before they start mining and then come back twice a year and test several of them to see if any changes have occurred.

But, Vista Sands told the city that if they find a well that does not meet state standards the DNR has to be notified.

Vista Sand also agreed to limit trucking to six days a week with no trucking on Sundays.

Discussing water quality took up a lot time during Monday nights meeting and the meeting heard from Ken Severson a Geologist from UW-EC explaining that the ground water flow at the mine site is away from Downing and he explained how the natural hills in the area keep the water away from Downing. “Downing is just not along the flow lines (for ground water) and the ridge isolates Downing from the mine site,” Severson said.

At ten p.m. the council went into closed session to further talk about the agreement with Mayor Larson asking Greg Holden, President of the Village of Downing and Ken Peterson, a candidate for the city council to join in the closed meeting.

Mayor Larson reported on Tuesday morning about information after the closed session. He indicated, “I think both sides are frustrated right now, we want more than they (Vista Sand) are offering.” Larson said that the meeting lasted until almost midnight and stated that they are still in negotiations over water well guarantees and property value guarantees mostly for the Village of Downing.

The council will meet again on the sand mine subject without Vista Sand. That meeting will be at the City Hall on Monday, February 17 at 6:30 and then meet again with Vista Sand at the Community Center on February 27th.