City looking at problem of dumped pumps

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Abandoned gas stations are extremely pricey to repurpose
After nearly a decade of lying vacant, responsibility of the old Clark gas station on East Fifth and Vine streets could soon transfer to local government.
Marysville Law Director Tim Aslaner told the Marysville Public Affairs Committee Monday night that due to delinquent property tax payments, the county has been pursuing a foreclosure case on the land. That case will culminate on Sept. 13 and 27, when there will be a Sheriff’s sale where people will have the opportunity to buy the property.
“The problem all along has been the property owner is AWOL,” he said.
Marysville Fire Chief Jay Riley said the property was declared vacant in 2008 after its owner “disappeared.” Records at the Union County Auditor’s office list the owner as “BN Reddy.”
Riley explained that if a gasoline tank is out of service for a year, the property owner can put the tank back into service, remove it or file for an extension.
Riley said the state doesn’t pay for cleanup, since property owners would simply abandon their land if they didn’t want it.
He noted this situation is a contrast to the old Swifty station, also on East Fifth Street, whose owners have kept up on their paperwork and communication with the city.
“They are showing some accountability,” Riley said. “It’s really apples and oranges.”
Since any new owner would be responsible for the cleanup of the land, Aslaner said it’s extremely unlikely anyone would buy it.
“Once we’re done with the Sheriff’s sales, we’re going to try to have that property transferred to the land bank,” he said.
The land bank is a Union County entity that holds ownership of unused land to be used or improved by any local governments part of the bank.
Aslaner said testing has determined there is contamination in the soil at that property. City Manager Terry Emery said there is grant funding available through the land bank to deal with the environmental problems.
According to Aslaner, Andrew Smarra, county treasurer and Land Bank chair, has been working to secure grant funding for cleanup.
“It depends on what they find when they pull the tanks up,” Riley said. “They have to get to clean dirt.”
Committee member Alan Seymour asked officials to contact others who have paid to cleanup a site. He said the city should come up with a figure for how much fixing the site could cost.
“There’s lots of cleanups going on, so we should be able to get a reasonable price,” Seymour said.
Part of why the property will be a tough sell is the large cost of this type of cleanup. City Engineer Jeremy Hoyt said removal of the tanks and cleanup of any contamination could cost in excess of $500,000.
Hoyt said the site of Richwood Bank’s new building needed cleanup after they bought it, though the bank was unaware until after the purchase. This was despite having a letter from the previous owner ensuring the site had been cleaned up. He said the cost Richwood Bank paid for cleanup was more than the price of the land itself.
Aslaner said the city can’t apply for any grants until the property moves into the land bank. The transfer costs nothing. If nobody buys the land in September, officials will come back to the committee later this year for more discussion.
Emery said the area would benefit from getting properties like these fixed up. With the development going on in the city, any land available to developers is valuable.
“It’s part of the transition of the area, and we want to get these things cleaned up,” Emery said.



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