A group of six to eight protesters spent Friday evening and Saturday morning and afternoon holding signs, such as “Honk if you hate the sand mine” at the east edge of Starved Rock State Park. The group is trying to prevent the opening of a frac-sand mine at that location.
La Salle County Board already has given Mississippi Sand all the permits it needs to get started, and Ottawa City Council on Aug. 6 approved the first reading of an ordinance to grant a permit for the mined product to be shipped from the ADM barge terminal west of the city along Route 71 and the Illinois River. The council’s final vote on the permit is schedule at its formal meeting Tuesday, Aug. 20.
City officials on Aug. 6 told the protesters there was nothing they could do, and that if they didn't approve the sand-shipping request, the sand trucks would pass through Ottawa to an east-side terminal.
“I’ve been opposed to it from the state,” said Tom Walsh, one of the protesters and one of six county board members to vote against the mine so close to the Illinois River and Starved Rock State Park. “I just think it’s the wrong place.”
Other protesters such as Farley Andrews, who identified himself as a South Ottawa Township resident, expressed concerns not only over the mine near the park but also for air quality and countywide rural real estate becoming desirable more for mining than being sellable for purely agricultural use.
“To us it isn’t a done deal,” Andrews said. Group members said they hope the county board can find reasons or ways to rescind their votes. Andrews said the group also is hopeful a Sierra Club lawsuit against the developers could prevent the start of mining operations.
Peg Enquist, who resides near the proposed mine, opposes the location of the mine near the park as well as worrying about air quality, her property value and whether cracks in her house will grow when the mining starts.
“We don’t want to give up, but it’s not looking good,” Enquist said.