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Five lots, dirt cheap

Former gas station property could be site of next Village Hall

May 12, 2010 | 08:51 AM
Genoa City — Even for as low as the real estate market has fallen, the price the village will pay for five lots on Walworth Street is practically a steal.

And that's after the state funds 95 percent of the cost to reclaim the land on the lot where the former Deep Rock gas station was located.

The land may provide Genoa City with a future site for a new Village Hall once officials are able to talk more seriously about that idea.

Until then, at least it appears the contaminated lot will be cleaned.

"It's really a win-win situation for the village," Todd Schiller, Genoa City's public works superintendent, said Monday. "It's pretty much only $5,000 for five lots."

But technically, the property was donated to the village by Associated Bank. Village President Barry Goad said the former Deep Rock gas station was owned by K&J Oil before the bank became the property owners.

However, the lot where the 15-by-15-square-foot gas station building still stands is suspected of being contaminated by the fuel storage. That's why the village is paying $5,000.

Goad said the bank notified him about the potential land donation last September, but the contamination issue posed a question officials weren't quick to answer.

"It was the unknown that stalled this with us," he said.

"We were trying to get our ducks in a row," Schiller said.

The board didn't act on the issue until April. At the regular Village Board meeting, the vote was 3-2 to accept the donation. Goad wasn't at the meeting, but Trustee Ken Parker and former trustee Marc Harren expressed concerns about how much of the cost to reclaim the soil would be picked up by the state. The board authorized Goad to complete the necessary paperwork on the land donation at a special meeting in late April.

On Monday, Goad echoed some of the concerns brought up by trustees last month. He said if the bank auctioned off the property, officials would have little control over what is done on that site. Goad said this also ensures the land contamination issue will be addressed — with the state Department of Commerce's PECFA program funding most of the cost.

Ultimately, the land donation presents the village with three options. It can clean the site and sell all five lots, use the property as the site for a new Village Hall or a combination of both.

"We may not need five lots to house a Village Hall," Goad said.

However, don't expect to see the walls on a new municipal building go up anytime soon. Goad said he still believes a new Village Hall won't be talked about seriously until after the Tax Incremental Financing District is closed.

But he said it has been "a dream my whole 10 years on the board" to replace the current Village Hall, which was built in the 1920s.

"We need to plan for the future (and with the donation) we wouldn't have to buy any property," Goad said. "I think it's important to keep the future facility in downtown. This just makes more sense."

What's next?

Schiller said the soil reclamation could begin soon.

"We're going to push to do this as fast as we can," he said. "We could see some digging out there in the next 30 days."

The village hired Endpoint Solutions, Hales Corners, to reclaim the soil. Schiller said Endpoint's "rough estimate" is $80,000. However, thanks to the PECFA funding, the village only will pay 5 percent of that — $5,000. Endpoint's workers will remove the contaminated soil and dispose of it at a certified landfill.

According to Schiller, officials from the state Department of Natural Resources became aware of the site contamination after the old gas tanks had been removed. DNR officials are expected to make a decision by using existing test wells on the property to determine how much of the land is contaminated.

Schiller said he hopes to have new, black soil planted with grass seed on the lot by fall.

Goad said with the upcoming statewide elections, it's uncertain whether that funding would be available after this year. "Now is the time and the quicker the better," he said.

According to Schiller, both the departments of Commerce and Natural Resources are "tickled pink" about the village's effort to clean up the contaminated lot.

"That really helps the situation," he said.

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