Citizens of Makanda say 185-foot tower still poses a threat to historic village

By Keaton Yates , Staff Reporter

Business owners in Makanda remain in the dark on proposed 185-foot communications tower.

The tower, in Makanda, could lead to flooding, damaging local artists and historical value.

Makanda is a small, scenic village that leads to Giant City State Park, which attracts tourists nationwide. It is home to two well-loved art festivals: Makanda SpringFest and Vulture Fest, as well as many business owners who sell local art and antiques.

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In August, the citizens of Makanda saw a notice that the Canadian National Railway will be issuing a 185-foot tall communications tower in the village.

See more: (Threat of 185-foot communications tower looms over historic village of Makanda)

The tower would be located across from Jinnie Pearl’s, an antique and vintage store, business owner Nina Kovar said.

“It’s just across a narrow two lane road,” Leslie Yambert, village clerk, said. “The original permit we saw for this Positive Train Control tower included a fence, and what they call a bungalow, a little building with all their computer equipment.”

The biggest concern is a five-foot tall concrete platform, which creates a dam, Kovar and Yambert said. 

The dam would redirect the flow of flood waters right into Jinnie Pearl’s and the homes there, Yambert said.

“One of the reasons the railroad said they picked Makanda is because they considered other sites, but they flood,” Yambert said. “Makanda floods, big time.”

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One of the suggestions Makanda has for the tower is to move it either north or south of the tracks, so it is not directly in front of Jinnie Pearl’s and townspeople’s homes, Yambert said.

“We believe they have the resources to be able to work with us and not be such a detrimental problem for the town,” Kovar said.

Kovar and many other business owners in Makanda sell local art, which cannot be replaced. Jinnie Pearl’s has flooded out three times in the past few years, that Kovar knows of, she said.

“I personally don’t have the resources to just handle a flood every year,” Kovar said. “That seriously affects business and my resources.”

The Railway was not able to respond to the Daily Egyptian, and their responses have not been effective, Kovar said. Another business owner, Brian Beverly, said around 2,000 petitions have been signed since August both online and on paper.  

At the bottom of the notice is an email address to Angela Kappen, an employee for Golder Associates, regarding concerns. The citizens were asked to contact Kappen about the tower, but no response was given, Kovar said.

“We are currently still trying to get a hold of any additional help,” Kovar said. “As a business owner down here, I’m scared for my livelihood.” 

The citizens of Makanda have yet to hear any updates from the Railway and are trying to find other ways to get the word out.

Online petitions can be signed at makandatradingcompany.com, or on Facebook at Makanda Trading.

Concerns about the tower can be emailed to Angela Kappen at [email protected]

Public inquiries for the Railway can be reached by telephone at 1-888-888-5909.

The Daily Egyptian reached out to the Railway by telephone and email, but was unable to get a response.

Staff reporter Keaton Yates can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @keatsians.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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