Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

March 23, 2014

Contamination detection, cleanup eyed as a boost

KALKASKA — Two hollow spots detected under the former Kalkaska Chamber of Commerce building cause experts to wonder what lies beneath the property the village purchased in 2012.

“We know that site was a gas station, and end of story, that’s all it takes to have a concern,” said Dean Farrier, owner of Farrier Surveying.

Further inspection will show if the hollow spaces are underground fuel storage tanks left over from the site’s gas station days, which could pose a risk of water and soil pollution, but Farrier said that isn’t the only explanation.

“These things underground could be foundations of old things that were a part of that gas station,” he said. “The one out in the parking lot may have been the base for a sign, we don’t know. When they examine them we may find out they’re just large pieces of concrete.”

Mark Avery, chair of the Kalkaska Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, said cleaning contaminated and blighted properties helps the village sell them to developers. The village asks the state to designate those sites as brownfields, or old industrial or commercial sites with leftover contamination or blight. The village is more likely to obtain grants to clean up designated brownfields.

The village hired Farrier to survey the property as part of its Phase I Brownfield Report on the 300 block, which includes the village-owned former Erb Lumber and Chamber of Commerce buildings. Kevin Sagasser, of Sagasser and Associates, was hired to look into the site’s history and look for clues that could point to contamination concerns.

The former Chamber of Commerce building property started as a bandstand and community park, then was home to a gas station before being converted into an office building. Four underground tanks were removed from the property in 1985.

Avery said the village plans to further inspect the hollow spots this summer. Other than those spots, the former Erb Lumber and Chamber of Commerce properties earned clean bills of health.

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