Soil cleanup to cost Everett $1.9 million

EVERETT — The city is about to spend as much as $1.9 million to clean up a mess it didn’t make.

Officials are getting ready to clear away contaminants from a former industrial site located near the planned multimillion-dollar Riverfront Development.

The city is doing so voluntarily because it may sell the property down the road — and because it’s the right thing to do, said Dave Davis, Everett public works director.

Right now, the 2.5 acres of land, located at 2731 36th St., sits vacant. The city purchased it in 1991 for $1.5 million as part of a larger acquisition.

A storage tank buried underground years ago leaked fuel into the surrounding soil. The cleanup, scheduled for this summer, includes digging up the contaminated dirt, disposing of it and replacing it with clean fill.

Everett is far from the only property owner to get stuck cleaning up environmental messes they didn’t cause, said Larry Altose, state Department of Ecology spokesman. Right now, there are dozens of developers across the state — public and private — who are paying for similar cleanups.

It’s not clear who caused the mess. A Department of Ecology record shows the tank was installed in 1964 but doesn’t list who buried it, Davis said.

The land is right next door to the planned Riverfront Development site on the Snohomish River. The private-public project would include a mix of swanky condominiums or apartments, shops and restaurants built on top of a former landfill and mill site.

That project, originally slated for groundbreaking in 2008, was slowed but not stopped by the recession. The new groundbreaking date could be as soon as next year but that depends on finding the right tenants. The developer is applying for permits and wooing commercial tenants.

City officials are busy moving forward on their part of the deal, which includes plans to add a 3-acre park, create trails, restore wetlands and build a roundabout east of the 41st Street overpass.

The public can weigh in on the city’s amenities plan for the Riverfront project at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Spruce Hall at Forest Park, 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd. The plan has to pass through the parks board before moving on to be approved by the City Council.

Although this land isn’t part of that project, it would still conform to the same building requirements.

OliverMcMillan, the private San Diego-based developer the city is working with, gets first dibs on buying it from the city, Davis said. Even if the developer doesn’t want it, someone else may down the line based on its proximity to the Riverfront project.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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