Council member Kevin Chaffee wondered, “What if the cleanup cost exceeds $2 million?” According to Guevara, the environmental consultant estimated it would cost around $272,000 for a more complete investigation and remediation. If, however, the work did exceed that $2 million, “the city would have to find another way to fund it,” possibly a state brownfields remediation grant.
Chaffee made a suggestion. “What if we hired that consultant to come back in and widen the scope of the investigation? Take a month and get some additional samples and analyze them” to fully understand the cleanup’s extent and estimated cost. The civil engineer said, “I’ve seen these kinds of projects start out at $200,000 and end up at $5 million.”
Fritsch agreed with Chaffee that more boring samples are needed to assure the remediation won’t exceed the $2 million state limit.
Council member Beth Meyers disagreed with the need for more borings. “There’s no reason to prolong the issue.” Guevara reasoned even if the consultant’s estimate is “off by 100 percent, you’re still way under $2 million.”
One attendee weighed in on the problem. Mike Vonderheide, who worked for IDEM when it started the underground tank program 25 years ago and was the former Batesville Water and Gas Utility manager, cautioned, “This contamination could have gone blocks down the street” because many lines have been replaced. “Be prepared for it to get very much bigger ... this could be a very long-term remediation and a long time before you would ever be able to think about selling the property.” He predicted a clearance letter could take 10-20 years.
In the end, the Batesville Board of Works voted to allow the property to be transferred to city ownership.
Fledderman emphasized, “It is a tough situation for the city to be in.”
The Batesville City Council voted to proceed with funding 4-1, Chaffee opposed because he wanted more investigation before committing city funding. The mayor said the initial $70,700 could possibly come from the Cumulative Capital Development, Cumulative Capital Improvement, Rainy Day or Economic Development Income Tax Fund.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.