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Cleanup begins at proposed central office site

SALISBURY — While Rowan County commissioners listened to people debate the proposed school central office Monday, Salisbury moved forward with the approved plan to build the facility downtown.
The city started cleanup and demolition at 329 S. Main St., where the Rowan-Salisbury School Board voted to build the central administration office.
The future of the project is in limbo with four new school board members and two new county commissioners taking seats this month. Commissioners voted Monday to delay the project for 60 days to allow the two boards to meet and discuss it.
City officials said it was coincidence that cleanup started on the same day that commissioners held a public hearing about the central office.
Crews are removing fuel canopies, concrete and soil surrounding three underground storage tanks and an oil water separator, which remain from the former occupant, Arey’s Texaco. Demolition of the service station building has not been scheduled yet.
City Council in November approved removal of the underground gas tanks and remediation of contaminated soil as soon as possible. The city owns the land and will donate it for use as the new central office site.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday and the time it took city staff to work out details with contractor HS&E, Monday was the soonest the work could start, city spokeswoman Elaney Hasselmann said.
Site work Monday included work on the pump islands and the area of the building housing the oil water separator, she said.
Deb Young, the city’s facilities maintenance manager, is supervising the work, which will continue throughout the week. All site preparation will be complete by January, as requested by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, Hasselmann said.
The city consulted with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and an outside firm about the cleanup.
The city bought the site in 2007 from Holding Brothers. The state filed a letter of no further action on the site in 1991, indicating that it had cleared the property after seven storage tanks were removed.
The city confirmed the letter before buying the property.
The three remaining underground storage tanks and a small amount of soil contamination came as a surprise.
The cleanup is expected to cost between $30,000 and $35,000. The city will pursue a state grant to help cover the cost.

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