Stadium on schedule, but contaminated soil could be costly

The stadium at Riverside Village is on schedule and announcements about restaurants and retail could come soon, City Administrator Todd Glover told North Augusta City Council members Monday night.

 

The Clubhouse – a seven-story building with apartments, team offices and locker rooms – the hotel and two parking decks have been approved by the city Planning Commission. Structural steel framing is going up and a tall cinderblock structure that will house elevators and staircases can be seen easily from the bridge.

But as they have dug deeper into the outfield, construction workers have found contaminated soil that will cost the city some contingency dollars it hadn’t expected to spend in that way.

Exactly how much isn’t known yet, but about $300,000 in contingency funds has been set aside, Councilman Fletcher Dickert said. He and Councilman David McGhee, who have construction backgrounds, make up a special oversight committee on Riverside Village work.

The site was used for storing fuel oil in the 1920s and has been undeveloped since about 1929. Workers have found old foundations and the contamination is below those.

The site was tested before construction began, but the fuel oil in the outfield wasn’t detected.

“I can’t say we’re surprised, but we’re certainly disappointed,” Mayor Bob Pettit said.

The city has to dig up and haul off the contaminated soil, then haul in clean fill dirt from elsewhere. It also has to deal with disposing of water that has come into contact with that soil.

That cost will be significantly less if the city can dispose of the water through the sanitary sewer system, something it has discussed with the Aiken County Public Service Authority and the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

While they wait for an answer, city officials are looking ahead to August, when hotel construction is expected to begin, Glover said.

He hopes to announce tenants for three restaurants and some retail soon, and stressed that being open for Opening Day in April 2018 is still on track.

“Everyone involved is confident that date can be met,” he said.

Reach James Folker at (706) 823-3338 or james.folker@augustachronicle.com.

In other action:

The city agreed to take over a 1.48-acre parcel of land on Ascauga Lake Road, next to the Department of Motor Vehicles office, for use as Greeneway trailhead parking, and to pay Aiken County and the Board of Education $18,000 for delinquent taxes owed by a previous owner.

The parcel is left over from a larger tract bought by the Department of Transportation when the Palmetto Parkway was under construction.

The remnant was offered in a tax sale, but no one bought it. The county’s Forfeited Land Commission offered it to the city, which could have accepted it at no cost.

But Mayor Bob Pettit said “the right thing to do” would be to make the county and school board whole on the taxes, because there’s a “long-term benefit to the city having that property,” and it’s worth more than $18,000. More than one council members pointed out that the county and school board had helped North Augusta by agreeing to give up some tax revenue to let the city build Riverside Village with Tax Increment Financing.

The vote was 6-0, with Councilman Ken McDowell absent.

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