Tainted downtown site closer to reclamation

WARRENSBURG A contaminated, fenced-off plot in the middle of downtown is one step closer to reclamation as a viable commercial site or a municipal parking lot. Wednesday, portions of the former Econo-Quick Gas & Carwash building tumbled as a backhoe pushed down concrete-block walls and town workmen cleared away construction debris. The removal of the buildings on the 0.8-acre site on Richards Ave. will be followed by soil test borings to determine the extent of underground contamination from gasoline leaking from underground tanks removed in 2001. At that time, a preliminary site cleanup included excavation of 12,920 tons of contaminated soil as deep as 27 feet from where the gasoline tanks had been located. Beginning May 19, hired engineers will be taking test borings down to bedrock as deep as 75 feet to determine the sites underground geological features. These initial drillings will help environmental engineers determine how contaminants might have spread, state Dept. of Environmental Conservation Project Manager Andy Frank said. This work will be followed by a series of borings and soil tests to measure contamination levels and where further excavations should be conducted, he said. Prior borings have indicated that there may be substantially contaminated soil underneath the carwash building, and that 1,500 tons of soil may have to be removed. There may be considerably more contaminated soil elsewhere on the property, Frank said. The town received a $478,650 state grant in 2006 to decontaminate the property, which it acquired years ago through foreclosure. Although the town was to pay for 10 percent of the cleanup costs, the state allowed the town to use its employees labor as its share of the bill, Warrensburg Town Supervisor said Wednesday. Geraghty said that after the site is cleaned up, the town board may put it up for sale as prime commercial property or turn it into a municipal parking lot to satisfy downtown shopkeepers whove complained of inadequate parking for customers. Its good to see progress on the cleanup, but we havent yet decided what well be doing with it, he said.

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