Tonica Cemetery Association waits for project and funding news
TONICA — Warm temperatures and rain have melted winter’s snowfall and raised Tonica’s Bailey Creek to levels where, once again, noticeable amounts of soil are being carved out of the shorelines.
The winding flow and increased amount of water are endangering a large number of trees along both sides of the creek, as well as historical graves in Brookside and Fairview cemeteries.
The members of the Tonica Cemetery Association have been aware of this issue for several years and received help in contacting the Army Corps of Engineers from the North Central Illinois Council of Governments (NCICG).
“At some point, someone is going to say, ‘Something should’ve been done sooner.’ Well, now is sooner. We have to do something now, before it’s too late and serious damage occurs,” Bob Folty, president of the Tonica Cemetery Association, has previously said.
While the wheels have been set in motion, no one yet knows what type of solution will be proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers or how the project will be funded.
Surprisingly, since the water in the creek is under the authority of the Corps of Engineers and the land on both sides of the damaged area is owned by private entities, Tonica Village President Kevin Sluder said the village has no interest or responsibility in helping with the project or its funding.
And funding is a concern on both sides of the project.
“Currently we’re waiting for additional funding. The first phase was to receive funding to do a federal interest determination to see if there’s a federal interest in doing this work. Once we receive further authorization we’ll determine feasibility and then go into the actual design and construction phases of the project,” James Homann, Corps of Engineers project manager, said.
Homann said the project falls under Section 14 of the 1946 Flood Control Act. According to the Corps of Engineers website, this provides them the authority to construct emergency shoreline and stream bank protection works to protect public facilities, such as bridges, roads, public buildings, sewage treatment plants, water wells, and non-profit public facilities, such as churches, hospitals, and schools. The maximum federal expenditure at any one site is $5 million, and each project must be economically justified and environmentally sound.
“Every year there are very limited funds for these types of smaller projects, and Tonica is essentially going to be competing nationally against others like it,” Homann said.
The Corps of Engineers website also says projects are undertaken on a cost-shared basis. The feasibility study is 100 percent federally funded up to $100,000. The local sponsor is required to cost-share equally the cost of the feasibility study that exceeds $100,000. They’re also required to provide 35 percent of the costs of developing plans, specifications and the construction.
While costs are still unknown, 35 percent of the proposed project will likely be a substantial amount.
“We can’t apply for any additional federal assistance, but we can use state and county funds, and that’s what the NCICG will be helping us with,” Folty said.
He’s previously stated the LaSalle County Soil and Water Conservation District is unable to provide any assistance because of a lack of funding.
Folty added the Tonica Cemetery Association will be under no obligation to follow through on what’s recommended by the Corps of Engineers and said they’ll additionally be looking for ways to do as much of the work themselves as possible.
Homann said the likeliest method to be proposed will be the installation of riprap, the large stones commonly used to protect shorelines, stream beds, bridge abutments, pilings and other structures from erosion.