The original agreement with the owner of 701 Warren Street allowed three months for the City to do its due diligence before deciding whether or not to buy the property for use as a police and court building. Part of that due diligence was an environmental study. Late yesterday afternoon, only eight days before the time runs out on the City's purchase agreement, Morris Associates delivered the Phase I environmental study which recommended that there be a Phase II.
That the site requires a Phase II environmental study probably should come as no surprise. It's right next to the railroad tracks, and apparently, in the distant past, ashes and old railroad ties had been dumped there. In the more recent past, the building was an auto parts store. What's surprising is that it could have been converted into a gym without undergoing any environmental review.
With time running out, the Common Council had the choice last night of walking away or extending the agreement to buy the building (which will now cost a nonrefundable $5,500 a month) in order to do a Phase II environmental study and complete the painstaking cost analysis being done to avoid another costly boondoggle like the ultimately scrapped plan to build a senior center. Last night the Council voted unanimously to extend the agreement for two months and to transfer another $4,000 from the General Fund to pay for further environmental testing. John Mason has the whole story in today's Register-Star: "City buys time to make police/court HQ decision."