City expects environmental report on storage building soon

City officials anticipate learning more this week about potential contamination of and any remediation steps for a Jackson Street property the parks department is planning to purchase for equipment storage.

Indianapolis-based Ark Engineering Services is expected to release the findings of a Phase II assessment conducted at 1360 Jackson St., city parks director Mark Jones said.

The environmental firm was initially hired to conduct a Phase I analysis of the site and continued its work under Phase II to evaluate the chemical impacts to soil and water at the property.

The land is the former site of Machinery Moving Inc. and is being targeted by the parks department to help with operations and equipment storage.

Jones said Thursday that he hoped the report would be ready for review this week.

At the park board’s December meeting, the city agreed to pay Ark Engineering $8,775, and an additional amount not to exceed $5,000 to test building surfaces for contamination as part of the Phase II analysis.

The park board and the Columbus City Council have given approval for the city to purchase the property for $300,000 from Norma Lienhoop, the aunt of Mayor Jim Lienhoop. The mayor has recused himself from being directly involved in the matter.

The $300,000 purchase price would be paid over six years with the first $50,000 coming out of the parks department’s cash reserve fund. The remaining $250,000 would be made from city capital funds allocated to the department, according to the city.

Jones said after the meeting that the city wants to make sure the land is a safe piece of property for the parks department to move forward with, but stressed parks officials would work directly with the property owner if remediation is needed.

“We’ll work with the owner to pay for cleanup,” Jones said. “We need to see what (the report) says.”

Jones also said the property still remains desirable for the parks department since it is close proximity to current park operations. The report from Ark Engineering Services will also investigate missing paperwork tied to the removal of oil drums, Jones said.

Asked how much remediation might be needed at the site, Jones said, “It all depends on how drastic it is.”

“We need to see the report and see what the next steps are,” Jones said.

Mark Levett, park board president, also said the city doesn’t intend to use taxpayer money for any remediation at the site that might be necessary.

“If (the property owner) cleans it up and we get it for the price lower than the market value, then we’re going to go forward with it,” Levett said.

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The Columbus Parks and Recreation Department expects to receive an environmental report from Ark Engineering Services this week on a Phase II assessment conducted at 1360 Jackson St. that it wants to acquire for equipment storage.