Commission continues talks on Tucker Building

Discussions of what to do with the Tucker Building, an old gas station on the corner of U.S. Highways 28 and 43 in Linden that the Marengo County Commission is interested in purchasing, demolishing and paving over for a parking lot, continued for a third month during Tuesday’s meeting as Griffin Gatschet, an engineer representing CDG Engineers & Associates, informed the commission of more details about the property and entering the Alabama Trust Fund (ATF).

Two 8,000-gallon tanks lie under the property and were last owned by the now-defunct Bessemer Petroleum, making them essentially abandoned.

The two options the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) allows when considering eligibility are closing the tanks by filling the with cement or removing the tanks completely. Gatschet recommended removing the tanks as they would not be subject to the stricter regulations that accompany closing the tanks.

If approved to join the ATF, the commission will have access to $1.75 million to cover the costs of any environmental contamination from the tanks including clean-up and litigation fees after a $5,000 deductible fee is met.

Though the tanks are out of compliance and not eligible in their current state, Gatschet said ADEM may be willing to approve it for the trust fund as long as proper actions are taken.

“If ADEM is willing to do it — to make it eligible — you want to go ahead and do it,” he advised.

The process of getting the tanks removed would be registering the tanks to the county as the new owner and filing a notice of intent. Once ADEM provides approval, the county can move forward with removing the tanks, which Gatschet said CDG Engineers & Associates would charge $2,500 if they took the project on.

The county is also subject to a $30 per tank annual fee until removal and approximately $840 in tank back fees to ADEM.

Fluid that Gatschet found in the tanks would need to pumped out before removal can begin.

Based on his past experience, Gatschet gave the commission a 50 percent chance of contamination being found, after which ADEM would step in with the trust fund. He also urged the commission to enter the ATF if approved. “It provides a lot of assurances to allow that property to be used, to be sold, to still have value.”

There is no annual fee to join the ATF.

Following that discussion, the commission tabled the bid opening for all other aspects of the proposed project including demolition, removal and disposal of the buildings on the property and removal and disposal of underground tanks.

Two bid contractors that were present at the meeting asked for clarification on the bid following uncertainty of who would be responsible for testing for asbestos. Following an executive session, the commission approved employing CDG Engineers & Associates for the task.

Other items discussed by the commission include:

• Wesley Hodges representing the Hodges Foundation asked the commission for a letter of support so the non-profit organization can receive funds on behalf of the county to fulfill rural community and development purposes. No action was taken.

• approving the Resolution for Professional Services stating that the county agrees to use Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood for professional engineering design and construction observation services and the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission for project administration as solicited by the commission when implementing a Community Development Block Grant.

• accepting the lowest bid for lawn maintenance by  Sheffield Lawn Care ($250 a week) and for traffic striping, WB Builders ($25,108 total).

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, June 12 issue of the Demopolis Times.)