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Spring Valley considers former Bassicks property buy

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 2:50 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 3:13 p.m. CDT

SPRING VALLEY — Spring Valley City Council members and the mayor are debating whether to purchase the former Bassicks industrial property along Route 6 for possible future economic development.

The property has recently received a No Further Remediation letter from the Illinois EPA which allows it to be sold and utilized. City officials are considering purchase of the property so that they can control this development and use, for and in the best interest of the community.

“The perception was the property was dirty,” Alderman Walt Marini said.

At the center of the dispute is worry that the property may have contamination that could end up costing the city in clean-up. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency conducted tests on the property and found no contaminants, but Mayor Cliff Banks and city attorney Tom Tonozzi are worried there could be other contamination in other areas.

The former Bassicks property has been the center of debate for years as the city weighed the economic value versus the potential environmental cleanup. As far back as 2003 and before, the city considered purchasing the property from then owner Invensys for commercial development.

“They were willing to give it to us the property, but we declined,” Marini said.

Marini said the site has developed a reputation and perception of being contaminated, which is why the city did not take the property, but that’s no longer the case. The site has been deemed safe for use by the IEPA except for a small area that needs to be capped, according to Marini.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wanted studies done on the property in the 1990s and former owner Stewart Warner initially complied, but then chose to demolish the building and put the property in a land bank. No core samples were taken at that time and the property was vacant.

A study from 1989 paid for by the city showed four soil borings were taken in 1988 after a underground heating oil storage tank leaked. At that time 224 cubic yards of contaminated soil was removed.

At a 2003 city council meeting, alderman Chuck Hansen said in a letter dated 1989, the IEPA said the case was closed and no further action was needed. A groundwater test and soil sample was taken and no volatile organic compounds or polynuclear aromatics were found.

Marini said it is the property’s bad reputation that has the mayor and city attorney worried.

The city hired environmental attorney Claire Manning to research the IEPA findings to ensure all safety concern and liability are identified and addressed, and to work on having the city purchase the area for $100,000.

Banks refused to comment on the issue, but said a statement from him drafted by the city attorney is forthcoming.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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