Morenci moving forward with parking lot project 09.0-9.2010

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The City of Morenci closed on three properties last week for the parking lot improvement project, leaving one building yet to go.

The city completed transactions to buy a vacant house on the northeast corner of LaGrange and Orchard streets, the former Grange/community center and some parking lot property behind the Village Inn restaurant.

The parking area has been maintained by the city for years, although it was actually privately-owned property. The two buildings will be demolished in order to widen Orchard Street from LaGrange north to the existing parking lot.

The Dunbar Auction House on North Street has yet to be acquired.

“It’s up to city council to decide if we want to push ahead and get those two buildings down or wait and get all three at once,” said Morenci mayor Keith Pennington.

Due to environmental concerns, the Dunbar property—a former automotive sales and repair business—won’t be purchased until an assessment is completed.

Brownfield grant

The Lenawee Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) received a $200,000 Brownfield Hazardous Substances Assessment grant through the U.S. EPA in 2009. So far, only Morenci and Blissfield have submitted requests.

Last month the LEDC board granted $32,000 for work at the Dunbar property.

Cheryl Kehres-Dietrich of Soil and Materials Engineers, Inc., from Plymouth, Mich., said assessment work will get underway during the next two weeks. She expects the project will take about three months to complete.

Kehres-Dietrich said the process begins with a Phase I environment site assessment. Records are reviewed and the site is visited to evaluate what is known about the property.

Also at that time building samples are collected to check for asbestos and lead-based paint—an important step in planning for demolition, she said.

Phase I data is examined to determine if the assessment should move on to Phase II in which soil and/or groundwater samples would be taken to evaluate for potential contamination.

Former use of the building as an automotive repair shop could mean petroleum products, solvents and various metals would be found in the soil, Kehres-Dietrich said. Her company will also check for underground storage tanks.

If Phase II is required and contamination is found, a baseline environmental assessment (BEA) will be conducted to document the condition of the property at the time of the sale. This would protect the new owner from liability in regard to previous contamination.

The present owner, Duane Dunbar, would not be responsible for contamination that was in existence when he purchased the building because he made the purchase before June 5, 1995, when the state’s due diligence law went into effect.

The Morenci Fire Department has requested use of the three buildings for training purposes before they are demolished.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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