With the property well on its way to being fully cleared of debris and contaminants, construction of a large new stormwater retention basin at the former Ramirez Salvage, Sale & Towing property on the city’s east side could begin as early as spring 2017, city officials say.
The former salvage yard, located at 828 E. Lincoln Ave., was purchased by the city back in March 2015 with the goal of transforming the property into a large water retention basin that will allow for improved stormwater drainage within the Lincoln Avenue/Steury Avenue corridor.
According to Goshen Brownfield Coordinator Becky Hershberger, the city had planned on using funds from a $1 million grant from the EPA to create the new stormwater retention basin on the property, the funding of which was set to expire July 31, 2016.
Given the significant amount of junk cars, scrap metal and other materials strewn throughout the large salvage yard at the time of the purchase, property owner Agustin Ramirez was given until July 1, 2015, to have all of that material off of the property so that the city could begin preparations for construction of the new retention area in time to avoid losing the EPA grant funding.
The original plan was to bid the project in February 2016 and award the contract at the Redevelopment Commission’s March 8 meeting, with construction to begin immediately after. However, issues with relocating the huge amount of salvage on the property coupled with problems locating a suitable new site to relocate the scrap resulted in that deadline coming and going with only minor movement at the site.
Faced with the loss of its EPA funding, the city applied for and received a one-year grant extension, effectively pushing the grant expiration date back to July 31, 2017.
“We had to make a strong argument that although nothing had happened up to that point, the planning was in place, we’d acquired the property that was necessary, and we’d made all the plans to make it work,” Hershberger said of the grant extension.
No longer faced with an imminent loss of grant funding, the city would continue to work with Ramirez over the next few months to get the property cleared, and in October of this year a $26,050 contract with R&R Excavating Inc. was approved for the demolition and initial cleanup of the site.
“We have done the demolition and cleanup in two phases,” Hershberger said, speaking from her office early Monday afternoon. “Phase 1 was simply the demolition and removal of all the scrap and debris that were left behind, and that has been completed. We got rid of all the concrete pads that were out there, and we just basically prepped the site. So all the debris is gone. There is still a pile of old gas tanks, however, but those will be cleaned up with our grant money, because it’s more of a cleanup process than just throwing them in a dumpster, because a lot of them are still full of material.”
With the initial cleanup of the site now complete, Hershberger said the next step in the process it to begin the environmental remediation portion of the project.
“Design plans are done, and we are actually bidding out Phase 2 right now, which is the cleanup portion, the remediation,” Hershberger said. “So the plan is to award that contract in January with all work to be completed by June. The grant expires at the end of July, but because we have done so much of the demolition and prep work ahead of time, digging a retention pond can be done even in the winter months, as can the soil work. So we’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to get all this accomplished in the allotted time frame.”
Speaking to the scope of the remediation project, Hershberger said a significant portion of the site’s surface soil will need to be removed and transported to the landfill due to prior contamination from the salvage yard.
“It’s basically taking away the surface material and making sure anything left is acceptable and it’s not going to contaminate a retention basin,” she said. “We have discovered an underground storage tank, so it will include removal of that, making sure no impacts exist because of that, and making sure there’s a clean cap over anything that remains at the end of the day. So the grant funding, the Brownfield funding from the EPA, will cover a large portion of the project.”
As for the actual retention basin project, Hershberger said the plan is to conduct the project in three phases, the first of which will be to construct a retention basin that will collect all the water that’s eventually directed to the site. Phase 2 of the project will involve reconstructing Lincoln Avenue with curb and gutter for about 500 feet past the intersection of Steury Avenue in each direction, and putting in new stormwater infrastructure, while Phase 3 will involve going up Steury Avenue and adding the same infrastructure below grade and directing the stormwater to the site.
“So at the end of the day we’re going to capture everything within that area, but we’re doing it in phases because it’s pretty substantial,” Hershberger said. “While the retention pond is going to encompass most of the site, we are also going to develop land at the northwest edge of the property that could eventually be commercial or industrial, but most likely commercial, offices or something of that nature along Lincoln Avenue.”
Given the significant amount of cleanup that has occurred at the site up to this point, Hershberger said she’s already hearing great things from the surrounding community about the project and is excited to finally see the city’s vision for the site becoming a reality.
“We’ve talked with some of the business owners out there already, and people are glad to see it cleaned up even to the point that it is now,” she said. “So for people to see it when it’s all said and done, it’s going to make such a significant impact to that neighborhood, to have it be green and clean and landscaped. So I’m excited for the community to see what we’ve envisioned since the beginning.”
Along those lines, Hershberger said the current plan is to host a public meeting sometime in early January to update the neighborhood on the status of the project and how things are progressing.
“We had met with them about two years ago,” she said, “but timing has been delayed so substantially that we just want to give them the reassurance that it’s going to happen.”
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