Alderman Kert Harenda, whose business involves hazardous materials cleanup, said he wanted to be cautious before the city bought land that Community Development Director Jeff Muenkel said had 'slight contamination' on it.
"Contamination can spread, and the clean up costs can be pretty dramatic; I'm just cautioning everyone that we're buying liability in this property," Harenda said.
The and was the site of the BP gas station. The county now owns the property, but has offered to sell it to the city for $1. While not under any restrictive 'cap order' by the department of natural resources, which requires extensive clean up, some contamination has been noted in a study done by Sigma Environmental Services.
Harenda has asked to see those studies before the council takes a vote on the matter. He was concerned about how contamination at the Shell station property, which has been deemed very contaminated, has impacted the BP land.
Muenkel told the council that the city is not liable for the contamination because it is not listed as a source of it. He also said the city would be paid back upon a subsequent sale to a business, but additional profit would return to the county.
In addition, many on the council, including aldermen Dan Soltysiak, Rob Wolfe and Rob Glazier called it a good idea, even if it meant the city breaks even on the deal.
If the city moves forward, Muenkel has recommended they apply for a DNR 'ready for re-use' grant, which can pay for 78 percent of the cost to clean up the property. More immediately a study would be done to assess contamination and provide some estimate for clean up costs. Muenkel has said those costs would be about $3,800, which would be covered by funds from the Community Development Authority (CDA).
The property was assessed at about $300,000 Muenkel said, and similarly sized parcels in the immediate area are worth more than that, making the cost to clean up the soil a small investment to ensure a sale.
"Basically, the property is hard to sell if it's not cleaned up and the county has no interest in doing so, which means this could sit for a long time," Muenkel said. "(If we purchase it), we can speed up the process and govern what goes on that parcel and make it marketable."
The council will meet again on Nov. 13 to vote on the matter, which Muenkel said still allows time before the Waukesha County Board meets to provide them with an answer.