Group: Corps Island agreement isn't bindingDIAMOND BLUFF - A group of residents aren't buying claims that a deal has been struck for a controversial project that would offload an island of sand through their town.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
DIAMOND BLUFF - A group of residents aren't buying claims that a deal has been struck for a controversial project that would offload an island of sand through their town.
"It's not a done deal and it doesn't have to come through Diamond Bluff," said the group's attorney, Patrick Hynes.
Hynes represents Citizens for Diamond Bluff, a group opposed to the project - slated to begin this spring - that would shuttle out 350,000 cubic yards of Mississippi River dredge material directly through the 500-person town.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials awarded the $1.83 million contract to Vadnais Heights, Minn.-based LS Marine. Company officials say plans call for barges to move the sand from Corps Island to Diamond Bluff's shore, where trucks will haul the material to another location, likely the Mathy gravel pit in Trenton Township.
But the citizens group is looking to block the effort amid concerns that heavy trucking all summer will pose a danger to residents and to the town's streets.
"This ill-conceived plan will deprive the public of access to the public boat launch for the entire summer, strain the town's roads and pose a serious threat to the safety and welfare of the citizens of Diamond Bluff," Hynes wrote in a Feb. 1 letter to the board.
LS Marine project manager Taylor Luke said at a Diamont Bluff Town Board meeting Thursday that efforts to access private land for the project have yet to be successful. In addition to using the town's boat-parking lot, the company must access private land to gain full access for the offloading process.
The project also needs approval from Pierce County and the Corps - preconditions that Hynes said have not been met. Township and company officials have said no contract allowing LS Marine to access public land has been inked, but believe a verbal agreement made at a September 2009 special meeting is binding.
Hynes spoke up at Thursday's Town Board meeting, hoping to argue the validity of the agreement reached between town officials and LS Marine. But Hynes said Town Board Chairman Jeff Holst silenced him after he refused to comply with Holst's request to name his clients.
Hynes called the request unconstitutional and said it raises serious concerns.
"I can't think of a benign reason why you'd demand a list," he said. "The only reason you demand a list like that is to make people feel uncomfortable for speaking out against this proposal."
Holst was unable to be reached by phone Friday.
The group will continue to oppose the project, Hynes said, beginning with a letter to the town's attorney to argue Holst's request for the client list.