The City of Perryville is expanding its underground presence.
The Perryville Board of Aldermen voted during its July 2 meeting to accept a qui-claim deed from TG Missouri for a parcel of land containing the entrance to Crevice Cave, the longest cave in the state of Missouri with more than 30 miles of mapped passages.
According to city administrator Brent Buerck, the city has worked closely with TG for many years to preserve and protect the cave entrance. This year, TG decided to donate the land to the city to allow limited public and government access to the cave system.
“We have actually a lot of caves that the city owns,” Buerck said. “A lot of our sinkholes are actually entrances to caves so we have several of them already. This would be just another one.”
Buerck said the city would be controlling access to the cave, which he described as a “wild cave.”
“It’s fairly dangerous,” Buerck said. “It’s not Meramec Caverns by any means. There will be limited access and most of that will probably be handled by my office, aided by Public Works.”
A locked gate hidden in a cornfield limits public access to Crevice Cave, and Buerck said his office will be in charge of the key.
“It’s had very limited access for the last six or seven years,” Buerck said. “It’s not a recreational cave. Access will be limited to the grottos and other state and federal agency partners that are working with us to protect and enhance the caves.”
The Perryville Parks Department often hosts basic, intermediate and advanced caving classes led by local spelunker Gerry Keene of Biehle, who has previously explored Crevice Cave.
“It’s a wonderful cave,” Keene said, explaining that the entrance deeded to the city is referred to as the “historic entrance.” “It’s absolutely wonderful. There’s a place in there called the Paradise Room that’s absolutely beautiful. At the same time, it is certainly not a beginning cave or a recreational cave. It’s 30 miles. You get lost in there, that’s it.”
Missouri, sometimes referred to as the “Cave State,” boasts more than 6,200 caves and often competes with Tennessee for the top spot on the list. Perry County leads the state in number of caves, with more than 700, and features four of the five longest caves in the state, providing plenty of opportunities for exploration, aside from Crevice Cave.
Buerck himself has some experience with Crevice Cave after taking part in a guided tour several years ago.
“About five years ago, TG let us in on a guided expedition,” Buerck said. “We wanted TG’s management team to know and understand the significance and importance of that cave.”
In other business, the board also approved the purchase and installation of three new tornado sirens for the city from Blue Valley Public Safety, Inc.
The city’s budget included plans to add an additional siren to the system this year and planned to add another next year, completing a project that would ensure siren coverage for the entire city.
Through Blue Valley, the city was able to obtain two refurbished, “gently used” sirens for the price of one. The third siren is a replacement for one of the city’s existing 40-year-old sirens, which failed and was determined to be beyond repair, making it’s replacement a non-budgeted but necessary expense.
The board also approved a recommendation from Maj. Bill Jones of the Perryville Police Department regarding no-parking zones on TG Way.
Administration at TG asked the city to look into the parking situation along TG Way after several street signs were recently hit. They asked if the city could limit on-street parking near their entrance as trucks were struggling to avoid the parked cars when turning into their driveway. The police department concurred with their findings and recommends limited parking in that area.
The board also discussed the removal of a tree located in front of the former 15 West restaurant, located at 15 W. St. Joseph St. on the downtown square, which will soon reopen as The Foundry. The tree blocks the restaurant’s sign, and according to the Buerck, the Downtown Revitalization Committee has no objection to removing the tree.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for July 16 at City Hall.