How many dollars does it take to buy an abandoned junkyard?
Augusta businessmen Bennie Christian was willing to pay $17,500 - plus a 10 percent auctioneer's fee - to own a 3.51-acre salvage yard adjacent to the contaminated Goldberg Brothers property on Dan Bowles Road.
Mr. Christian was unsure what he will do with the property. "Right now I don't know," he said after bidding closed in Friday's auction.
The property - including an 8,700-square-foot building and tons of garbage - is across Dan Bowles Road from the 10.8-acre Goldberg site under scrutiny by environmental authorities for eventual cleanup.
The sale was ordered by U.S. Bankruptcy Court as part of the disposal of the former Goldberg Brothers salvage business.
The larger Goldberg parcel is listed on Georgia's Hazardous Site Inventory as contaminated with lead, PCBs, arsenic, mercury and many other toxic materials, and may require extensive cleanup.
Scott Klosinski, the bankruptcy trustee involved in the sale, said the 3.51 acres next door has never been evaluated for contamination and no one has ever alleged that the site holds any contamination.
The buyer, however, has no immunity from any liability associated with the property if contamination should be found, he said.
The auctioneer, Joe Durham of Albany, Ga., told the small crowd of onlookers the site is being sold "as is" and with no guarantees. "You get everything here," he said. "The good with the bad."
The only bidder competing with Mr. Christian was Charles Utley, chairman of the Augusta Brownfields Commission, which is working to arrange cleanup and environmental studies on the adjacent property.
Mr. Utley said he was bidding only as a private businessman. "If I could buy it, at least we could get it cleaned up," he said. "No one around here wants another junkyard to come in over here."
The sale must be approved by the bankruptcy judge before closing can occur, Mr. Klosinski said.
Georgia's Environmental Protection Division is in the process of devising cleanup cost estimates for the larger Goldberg parcel and may use state Superfund money to pay private contractors to dispose of garbage at the site.
Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119.