Edwardsville project location includes graves – Alton Telegraph

EDWARDSVILLE – A new Madison County duplex community is planned on land that contains a family cemetery.

Developer Scott Runyon, working with an engineering firm in Effingham, wants to build 52 rental duplexes on 4.73 acres at the northeast corner of Gerber and Goshen roads in Edwardsville adjacent to the Gettysburg Estates subdivision. A looped roadway would enter from Gerber and Goshen with no cul-de-sacs. A planned unit development (PUD) is required for any lot in which more than one principal structure is located. 

The $12-15 million plan is targeted for land that holds the Frickenstein Family Cemetery. John Schrage currently owns the site.

Mary Westerhold of the Madison County Historical Society said the cemetery was deeded for $15 by Ignatius and Mary (Gillham) Riggin to the county in 1882 to be used “as a cemetery and burying ground forever.”

Its tombstones included one for F. W. Frickenstein, whose surname is attached to the property. F. W. Frickenstein’s father, Rudolph, is listed as the owner in the 1892 Atlas of Madison County. Resident John Schrage currently owns the site.

“Many who have researched the cemetery are convinced there are more burials there,” Westerhold said. “However, no record has been found to confirm this.”

One letter writer, Patty Denison, said she met Schrage in 2012 and he regaled her with his family’s and the land’s history as well as that of a schoolhouse on Goshen Road in which Denison now lives.

“He told me that behind the schoolhouse I live in is a very old graveyard that was forgotten about but the bodies were never removed,” she wrote. “He said he and his brother removed and destroyed all of the tombstones and markings they found.”

Paul Scherer, who has lived across Goshen Road from this site for 13 years, said building the project at this site was unnecessary because there is plenty of vacant land just a mile to the east on Goshen Road that would accommodate it. 

Formally called Goshen Cottages Active Senior Living Community, the project would consist of single-story rental cottages. It would be an age-restricted community; no one younger than 55 could live there and no children would be allowed to reside there per deed restrictions. Runyon said future residents would come from a 10-mile radius in town or nearby and have adult children nearby. There would be no assisted living or nursing home care on-site. 

There would be two floor plans, each with a private, one-car garage. One-bedrooms with 1.5 baths would cover 950-square-feet while the two-bedroom, two-bath units would encompass 1,131-square-feet. Amenities would include custom cabinets, granite countertops, vinyl plank flooring, walk-in showers, and more.

Runyon said the site would be an alternative for senior citizens to a traditional single-family home, apartment or large independent or assisted-living facility. Rents would be market-rate and the demographic target would be upper-middle class senior citizens. 

Lee Beckman, owner and project manager with Milano & Grunloh, said there are more than 2,800 people in Edwardsville who are over 65 years old. He referenced the “silver tsunami” of Baby Boomers as they continue to retire.

“Seniors want to stay in their community – they want to be near their church, their synagogue, their social organizations, shopping, health care providers and good roadways,” Beckman said. He added that this site is amid all of these community amenities.

Beckman also said senior citizens do not want to drive during peak rush hour times.

“That’s why they have [senior specials] at diners and everywhere else,” he said, prompting laughter from the crowd. He spoke further to make his point that the project would create little additional traffic to the area. 

Buncher said city staff had multiple requests for the developer – to revise the site plan’s legend, to locate sanitary sewers within utility easements and to detail information on stormwater detention. Greenspace dedication needs to be clearer, too, they said; common space maintenance is vague and the storm sewer on the north side should be in its own easement. Setbacks are also incorrectly called out as a potential variance.

Edwardsville City Engineer Ryan Zwijack said he has plenty of objections to the project as it’s presented. 

“There’s no room for stormwater detention set aside here and existing drainage on the site is not adequately addressed, if the developer chooses to move forward,” Zwijack said.

The land use committee will discuss the project on Feb. 17; it is scheduled to return to the plan commission on March 21. A full city council vote is not expected until April 5.