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Mixed Reactions to Wildwood's Pursuit of EPA Clarifications Expressed

Wildwood city officials were both applauded and challenged about decision to spend more money on assessing recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report of former Superfund site and proposed home area.

Once members voted by majority at Monday's council meeting to spend up to $10,000 with environmental consultants to analyze and reassess the final report provided last week by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials, residents expressed both support and opposition to the continued pursuit to discern whether select property in Wildwood is truly safe after it was a former Superfund site three decades ago.

See Monday article as background prior to meeting: 

In Monday's council work session, Wildwood City Administrator Dan Dubruiel reiterated that the city needed to "preserve all our legal options." He said there were ample funds in the anticipated budget to handle this review of the . However, he also stated:  "Bear in mind with the whole subject, it may be necessary to invest more."

Wildwood city attorney Rob Golterman said he thought having environmental consultants review the new was the prudent step to take.

One council member, Randy Ladd, Ward 2, opposed the vote Monday night.

Council member Ed Marshall asked if the Callahan property would be addressed as well in the consultants' review, because it was included in the latest round of EPA testing. Dubruiel said he believed it would addressed "in one fashion or another."

Wildwood resident Barbara Sprenger, who lives on Strecker Road, said those who live near the proposed housing development and former Superfund dioxin site "deal with more personal components." She thanked council members for re-engaging city-approved consultants into the fold.

Sprenger described a recent situation during which she requested Strecker Forest area testing results of a very specific nature. She said she was informed via email from a Missouri Department of Natural Resources official they would be available, but then received a voicemail saying they would not. "The more we deal with these agencies, the harder it is to trust what's happening," she stated at Monday's council meeting during the public participation portion.

Conversely, Wildwood resident Don Wenkel, who said he was speaking strictly for himself, read the new EPA fact sheet into the meeting's record. "It says what they found can be disposed of in an ordinary landfill, and that's an important point. This report is the sound of half a million dollars wasted," he said. "It's a lot of money, spent because people are trying to accuse people, regardless of who does the tests."

"It's time for fiscal responsibility," he said. "A lot of (needless) money has been spent on this boondoggle."

Wenkel asked council members if any one of them wanted to stand up and "take ownership of this mess." 

When no one stood, he said:  "I didn't think so!"

Wenkel made the case that further testing and further analyses of the new report are not warranted because EPA experts have continued to identify and communicate safety levels of compounds and other materials.

Another Wildwood resident Jean Vedvig, who is a former city council member, said at Monday's meeting she believed city representatives have and are doing "an excellent job of supporting and protecting Wildwood citizens."

Vedvig said the new, final EPA report about Strecker Forest is "obviously subjective."

She said because there was and is contamination on the properties, she believed city representatives were going in the right direction with discovery efforts. "Ask yourself what was not tested for," she said. "You cannot find what you don't test for."

"Call me an extremist," said Vedvig, "but I am concerned that everyone should have had this information before they bought their homes there, not after. The question is: Would they buy their homes again today knowing what they now know?"

Editor's Note:  Eureka-Wildwood Patch has published a variety of articles about this topic over a long period of time. Please see additional coverage available in the righthand side of this web page. Ensure a heads up for more developments about this matter by signing up for the free morning Patch newsletter.

Daniel J Topik June 27, 2012 at 04:23 AM
It’s ironic that the only council person to vote against the motion to spend up to $10,000 for the environmental consultants to analyze and reassess the final report provided last week by the EPA is Randy Ladd, Ward 2 whose property is close to the proposed Strecker Forest development. At the very least, Mr. Ladd should have recused himself from this vote, from an ethical standpoint since he has a financial interest in what happens with the proposed development. The City of Wildwood needed to spend the initial dollars on the consultants and a special attorney in their litigation with the developer. These studies and tests accomplished two things, that is, made the EPA take a second look at the proposed site, the Bliss Ellisville NPL site including the Callahan property and insure actions were taken to provide for the health and safety of Wildwood citizens. It was not money wasted. The EPA in their presentation stated this is not the end of their efforts. While the study is complete, the EPA is already proceeding with work to address the identified conditions at the Strecker Forest Home sites and The Callahan property. Additional characterizations and risk assessment work for the two areas in the northeast and east portion of the Strecker Forest Preservation Area will begin soon. It could be up to a year before the issues are completely resolved.

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