The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Engineering, monitoring needed to develop lot


March 14, 2019

To The Eagle:

As accurately reported last week by The Eagle, the Town of Cathlamet recently held a special council meeting regarding the infamous Butler Street property they purchased in 2018. At that meeting, Fred Johnson described the status of the existing restrictive covenant (RC) that applies to the property’s toxic issues in terms that sounded like there may be no toxic problems at all. In fact, he questioned whether the RC even applies to Butler Street property.

A couple of people have quickly asked me about the apparent disconnect between what their past understanding of the lot’s toxic liabilities are and what Fred was apparently expressing.

For the record, on January 30, Panjini Balaraju, a representative from the state Department of Ecology (Ecology) emailed Duncan Cruickshank and copied both the mayor and Fred Johnson. In his email, Panjini detailed in specific terms that the RC applied to both the Butler Street property and the adjoining bank property on Main Street. This was made crystal clear. I personally spoke with Panjini for complete verification, which he confirmed.

He also went on to state that any further activity on the property is prohibited without further testing and approval from the department of Ecology.

As The Eagle detailed, there are options Panjini outlined as well for the town to consider if we want to develop the lot in any manner. All options still involve further testing, costly engineering reports, monitoring, expenses, etc. As noted, our other most realistic option to avoid these costs and hassles would be to just leave it as the overpriced parking lot that it is.

The Ecology information mentioned above is available by simply contacting Olympia and using the public information request, or asking me directly for a copy.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and staying abreast of what’s happening with your tax dollars.

Bill Wainwright


Editor: Following are excerpts from Panjini Balaraju's email referenced above:

. . . During the December 12, 2018 meeting with the Town and Bank of the Pacific, Ecology presented the Site history, environmental sampling, and cleanup conducted at the Property and Site. Ecology presented the following three options to the Town for the Property, in which options 2 and 3 allowed for unrestricted re-development of the Property:

Option 1: Continue to maintain the property at the current condition/status without any development and maintain the requirements/restrictions of the existing RC on the property. Under this option, the RC would be expected to remain in place forever and the Property/Site will continue to undergo periodic reviews every five years.

Option 2: Hire an Environmental Consultant and sample soil at the former sampling locations CS-22 and CS-24 (Attachment 3, Figure 2). The goal of this investigation would be to show that the area is clean. If the area is not clean, additional cleanup would need to be completed. Once the Town demonstrates that the soil sample concentrations within the contaminated area are below the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA, State Cleanup Regulation) cleanup levels, Ecology can amend the existing RC and remove/terminate the restrictions on 20 Butler Street Property. Of note, the RC will remain in place for the Bank of Pacific’s 58 Main Street Property, until the contaminated soils present on this property are shown to be in compliance with the MTCA cleanup levels.

Option 3: Soil contamination remains on a limited area of the Property (20 Butler Street) beneath the retaining wall along the northern Property boundary. Soil everywhere else on the Property complies with the MTCA Method A cleanup levels (Attachment 3). However, the existing RC covers/includes these clean areas of the Property. As a result, the restrictions outlined in the RC are applicable to the entire Property.

To separate the limited contaminated area from the clean area and to define the legal boundaries of contaminated area on the Property, the Town could hire a Licensed Surveyor and get the contaminated area surveyed. Submit the survey with the Licensed Surveyor’s seal and signature, a new legal description of the contaminated area and a figure showing the contaminated area. If approved by Ecology, we would amend the existing RC and remove the restrictions on the clean portion of 20 Butler Street Property, leaving the RC restrictions on only the newly defined contaminated area. To ensure that the public are adequately protected, Ecology may require a barrier (such as fencing) around the contaminated area to restrict access. Ecology would then be able to provide approval for the Town to re-develop the clean portion of the 20 Butler Street Property.


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