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August 11, 2010

 

TC3 to test soil at south Main St. site

College agrees to pay for $5,000 study at future location of new academic building

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

The Tompkins Cortland Community College Foundation is paying $5,000 to test for contaminants in soil at the south Main Street site it is acquiring from Cortland County.
The county still owns the property and is responsible for ensuring the site is turned over free of contamination. But the foundation agreed to pay the expense since the county has no money left in the account that is funding the land swap.
County Attorney Ed Purser told legislators at Tuesday’s Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting the foundation agreed to pay for the tests.
The county would be responsible for cleaning up any contamination found.
The tests will determine if the soil was contaminated by underground gas tanks that were once on the site.
According to Bob Ross, assistant to the college president for real estate development and acquisition at the TC3 Foundation, the test results will be back in about three weeks.
Ross said the foundation agreed to pay for the work because it needs to be done if the foundation is to get a mortgage approved.
As part of the bank’s process of approving a mortgage it requires an independent environmental firm to review the findings of the report submitted by the county’s engineer, Barton and Loguidice.
The TC3 Foundation hired the Homer-based firm Geologic to review the report. Based on this review, it was determined the soil must be studied to ensure the tanks that were once on site did not leak.
“Unless we can certify there is no contamination, the bank won’t give us a mortgage, and without a mortgage there is no project,” Ross said.
County Maintenance Supervisor Brian Parker said it does not appear the site’s soil is contaminated. Parker said he spoke with a hoe operator working on the site who said he did not see any signs of contaminated soil.
In December, the county hired the Boonville-based environmental firm Dakota Environmental Services to remove asbestos from and demolish the buildings on site.
Purser said if contamination is found on the site, he thinks the county could have “some recourse against Dakota” for not having properly remediated the site.
Purser said Dakota was obligated to report any possible contamination that was found on the site and take the appropriate steps to remove it.
“At this time we are not aware there’s any problem but if we did become aware of something they were obligated to do under contract we would have some recourse against them to come back and correct it, assuming it’s in their contract,” Purser said.
The county is paying for the work from it’s $2.8 million share of tobacco settlement funds the state was awarded about five years ago.
The fund has been depleted over time.
Under the land swap, the county will acquire TC3’s extension building on West Court Street in the city in exchange for the college getting county property on south Main Street: formerly the Moose Lodge and Robbins Vending buildings.
The college will build a larger 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot academic building on the south Main Street site.
Once the land is determined to be free of contaminants, the property transfer will be completed. After the transfer the county will retain use of one building on the Main Street site for storage.

 

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