Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 12, 2014

SALISBURY — The city has identified 16 sites that could have environmental contamination and will ask Rowan County commissioners to endorse Salisbury’s application for a $400,000 grant to find out.
The city is applying for a Brownfield Assessment Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would provide up to $400,000 to hire scientists and consultants to study particular properties and determine whether they are contaminated and what should be done to clean them up.
City Council agreed last week to ask county commissioners to pass a resolution of support for the application to help the city’s chances. Salisbury failed to win an assessment grant last year.
City Manager Doug Paris said commissioners may be open to the request because they recently agreed to a payment plan for cleaning up debris from the old Kesler Mill site, one of the suspected contaminated properties in the Park Avenue neighborhood.
“They’ve shown some ability to come together on Kesler Mill,” Paris told City Council.
Commissioners voted unanimously to defer landfill tipping costs associated with removing debris from the Kesler Mill site. The city is negotiating with the owner to clean up the property.
When the land is sold or redeveloped, proceeds from the sale will go to pay off the landfill tipping costs and code services fines.
Numerous other organizations have written letters of support for the city’s EPA grant application, including several that own or are connected to potentially contaminated properties, including Historic Salisbury Foundation, both Park Avenue neighborhood groups and Livingstone College.
City planner Trey Cleaton, who is leading the application effort, said the city stands an excellent chance of winning the grant this time.
When the city applied in 2012, staff held several community meetings where residents came up with a list of 16 potential sites for remediation and redevelopment. The top four sites include:
• Kesler Mill, an abandoned textile mill at 425 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. now owned by a charity in Atlanta
• Schaeffer Iron Works Site, a former warehouse and iron fabrication facility at 601 N. Long St. now owned by Larry Correll
• The Empire Hotel, a mostly vacant former hotel at 200 S. Main St. now owned by Downtown Salisbury Inc.
• Duncan/Monroe Street School, a vacant former school at 1100 W. Monroe St. now owned by Livingstone College
Brownfield sites are typically old industrial sites, former gas stations or abandoned dumping grounds for toxic materials. The goal of the brownfield program is to resolve environmental issues so properties are more appealing to developers, leading to new investment, jobs and a boost to the tax base.
Other potentially contaminated sites listed at the community meetings include:
• Dunham Packaging, the former Wallace Motors at 801 W. Innes St. now owned by L&M Investments
• Multiple former gas stations and car dealerships at 419 S. Main St.
• A former dry cleaners at 111 W. Bank St. now owned by Davis Cooke
• A former dry cleaners at 121 E. Fisher St. now owned by ServePro Inc.
• The Perma-Flex industrial site at 465 Airport Road
• A suspected battery dump site across from Matika Village at 700 Block Airport Road now owned by Lakeside Investment Property
• A former dry cleaners at 126 S. Avalon Dr. now owned by Lewis Meng
• Superior Oil Co., asphalt and petroleum sites in the 1700 block of Jake Alexander Boulevard West
• Asphalt and petroleum sites owned by Michael Burr 1815 Jake Alexander Blvd. W.
• Vacant land at South Main Street and Rowan Mill Road now owned by Alliance Real Estate III Inc.
• A former auto service shop at 403 N. Main St. now owned by Rusher Holdings LLC
• The former Hanford Greenhouses at 120 Elm St. now owned by Taylors New Century Enterprises LLC
The grant application is due Jan. 22, and the city should know by spring whether it wins.
The city will pay nothing to complete the complex application. The EPA pays for a consultant to help prepare the application, Cleaton said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.