By Lenny C. Lepola
The unsightly structure at the southwest corner of the Columbus Street and Cherry Street in Sunbury will soon be history.
Over a year ago the village began exploring the purchasing the deteriorating structure, but because of historical environmental concerns – its history as a gas station – the wheels of government turned slowly.
During the Aug. 20 Sunbury Village Council meeting, council members approved Ordinance 2014-18 with a rules suspension and emergency language, allowing the village to purchase the building, known as the Martindale Property, by week’s end.
Village solicitor David Brehm described the building’s significant state of disrepair and said there were environmental hazards on the property.
“It was a gas station; at one time there were a lot of gas stations in town,” Brehm said. “The tank was removed during Mayor Curran’s term of office, but it was built and then removed with different standards than we have today. There is some contamination there. The levels are all relatively low, but there’s also some low levels of contamination on the neighbor’s property.”
Brehm said the scope of remediation would be $25,000 or less. The purchase contract was renegotiated and the purchase price lowered to offset remediation costs and help pay for consultant’s fees.
“This is the product of one year’s worth of investigation and negotiations,” Brehm said. “The end-game for that site is to demolish the building. With this addendum you can pay off the loan, demolish the building, begin remediation on the soil, and that’s when you can make your plans for the empty lot.”
Brehm said the reason for the emergency language in the ordinance was the bank had agreed to a short sale, but with a Aug. 22 deadline.
Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield said he was pleased to see the village finally close on the unsightly property.
“This purchase has been on the road, off the road, in the ditch, now it’s back on the road,” Hatfield said.
Sunbury Consulting Engineer Wes Hall, CT Consultants, said he would prepare a consulting fee proposal for the demolition by the Aug. 22 closing. He said the proposal would define the scope of the demolition and define the remediation.
Brehm also noted there are two other pending demolition projects that fall under the village’s authority and responsibility – the Breece property on Rainbow Avenue, and the former village water treatment plant on Sedgwick.
Brehm was asked if all three properties could be demolished at the same time to save money.
“The Breece property and old water plant are both in close proximity, but the timeframe for the water plant demolition does not line up with this property,” Brehm said. “The Breece property could be included with this, but it really is a different time frame.”