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Port commissioners review choices for Carnation property

Plans include saving water tank

At a special meeting yesterday set for the purpose of providing the Port of Sunnyside commissioners a greater understanding of what has been happening with the former Carnation building site, Project Development and Property Manager Jed Crowther told the commissioners about the progress that has been made so far.

He told the commissioners on Tuesday some of his presentation would be a review of events they have already covered.

There are several tasks that must be completed before the Port of Sunnyside can purchase the property. There are also steps to be taken before the property can be redeveloped.

"It may seem real complex, but there's a purpose to each task leading to the redevelopment of the property," said Crowther.

He told the commissioners the environmental study of the property has been completed and in April Maul Foster Alongi held a public meeting to discuss the concerns of the citizens, as well as the work that has been completed.

The historical and cultural study has been completed and it has been determined the public would like to see the Carnation tower and architectural features of the building to be preserved.

With the environmental study complete, there are two options for moving forward in order for the Department of Ecology to sign off on future plans for the property.

The Port of Sunnyside can take aggressive steps to treat the contaminated soil or it can agree to natural attenuation, which would require between two and three years of monitoring the soil and groundwater near the property.

Natural attenuation, said Crowther, is less expensive by as much as $100,000.

A prospective purchase consent decree issued by the Department of Ecology would be a preferable step for ensuring the highest level of action for determining risk factor assurance, according to Crowther.

He said that decree could be issued, giving the Port of Sunnyside an assurance that the steps being taken to clean up the property are sufficient and the port wouldn't be held liable for any further costs associated with the clean-up efforts.

The clean-up of the property was determined to be minimal because the public health risks are nearly non-existent.

"It is below clean-up levels," Crowther said of the contamination found during Maul Foster Alongi's environmental study of the property.

"Armed with that data Maul Foster (Alongi) was able to seek the two remedies for treatment," he told the commissioners.

The Department of Ecology has funding available for any costs associated with clean-up at contaminated properties and a remediation grant could cover between 50 and 90 percent of the costs.

Natural attenuation costs range between $177,000 and $182,000, whereas an aggressive treatment could cost between $248,000 and $286,000 that can be recuperated by the Port of Sunnyside.

Commissioner Jim Grubenhoff asked if any demolition or development efforts could take place during the attenuation process.

Crowther told the commissioners attenuation only involves monitoring and because the locations that would be monitored are either on the boundaries or off-site (across the street), redevelopment could be conducted.

He said the Port of Sunnyside is seeking funding for the first phase of the redevelopment of the property from the Community Economic Revitalization Board, and the financial institution that currently owns the property supports the Port of Sunnyside's efforts.

The port district has plans to formally assume ownership of the property by the end of the year, but grant funding can be secured in advance.

Commissioner Jeff Matson noted the property may sit vacant for a few years because of the state of the economy and the number of properties already available, but he is certain the community will appreciate seeing activity and clean-up efforts.

"It took 10 years before the Golob property was developed," he reminded those present.

Port of Sunnyside Director Amber Hansen agreed with Matson, stating, "It's important to have the property cleaned up for potential developers...it's key to have it neat and tidy."

She said buyers would not want an empty shell of a building.

As for preservation efforts, Crowther told the commissioners there are plans to repaint and possibly relocate the water tower. He said some of the masonry and glass blocks from the building could be preserved to serve as a base for the tower.

The commissioners all said they believe the tower should stay on the property, if at all possible.

"It could stand as a monument to the site," said Matson.

Crowther said, "This is all groundwork to help the Port of Sunnyside decide how it will proceed."

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