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Springfield Residents Ask About Pillsbury Mills, Coal Plant At First Ward Meeting

A proposal for what to do with Springfield’s power plant could be announced in November. The plan would follow a report from the spring recommending the city shut down three of its four coal generators. 

Springfield residents from wards 5 and 6 asked questions about crime, homelessness, the  future of City Water, Light and Power, and Pillsbury Mills at a meeting Monday night.

Terry Young, with the Trevi Garden homeowners association, said he attended to ask what city officials are doing to address homelessness and what the plan is for the coal plant. 

“It’s always been about the number of employees that’d be displaced [at the coal plant],” he said. “The sooner they can come up with a plan to put those employees in other jobs without displacing them, and allowing attrition and retirement to take care of the headcount – I think that would be a move in the right direction.”

CWLP Chief Engineer Doug Brown said because of environmental regulations that are set to take effect over the next few years, it’s not a matter of if they’ll shut down the coal generators, but when.

Mayor Jim Langfelder said the city has been working on a plan and will hold a utility commission meeting in November.

In response to questions about the Pillsbury Mills site, Langfelder said the city won’t take over the industrial facility that has sat vacant since 2001. But he said he plans to meet with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s attorney to discuss how to address health and safety concerns.

Mary Frances - who lives in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood – said the city has a responsibility to clean up the site.

“We build new structures on the west side all the time,” she said. “And I feel like if something like that were on the west side of the city would do something about it right away.”

Langfelder said the liability for the 18-acre area would be too much for the city. Springfield Fire Chief Allen Reyne said he worries about people getting onto the property after past fires there.  

The former mill has drawn more attention recently after a dog was spotted on one of the silos, and later found dead nearby. 

Ward meetings are scheduled throughout the city over the next three weeks. You can find a list here.


Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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