Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Polluted Clearwater site could be attractive to technology companies

RECOMMENDED READING


CLEARWATER — The big beige warehouse in an area full of them doesn't immediately appear to be a potential municipal gem.

But looks can deceive.

At approximately 5 acres, the former Metal Industries site at 1310 N Hercules Ave. is probably the largest available parcel in the city zoned for light-industrial or technology use.

It is a potentially attractive location for that golden egg-laying goose of city planners' dreams: a tech company.

There's one problem. Contamination of the soil and groundwater on the parcel have made it difficult to market, city officials say.

J.T. Walker Industries, which owns the site, is working with the state Department of Environmental Protection on a plan to clean it up. Depending on the price tag, the city might be interested in taking on the job.

Walker Industries has previously offered to donate the land to the city, Clearwater officials said. The city is waiting to see how expensive the cleanup of the property might be.

"It's too good to let it sit idle," said Ed Chesney, the city's environmental manager. "It's the biggest (light-industrial) piece that we know of. That's real popular with tech companies."

Walker Industries officials didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.

According to a DEP study, the facility opened in the mid 1950s and manufactured air-conditioning grilles, registers and other products. Operations ceased in March 2008, according to state documents.

The just market value of the property is $1.65 million, according to the Pinellas County property appraiser's office.

The source of the soil and groundwater pollution is chlorinated solvents that were used for degreasing metal parts. The solvents aren't a public health risk, said Ana Gibbs, a DEP spokeswoman.

Tests have shown that the plume of contaminated groundwater has spread to neighboring industrial properties. DEP is waiting for confirmation that all property owners have been notified before proceeding on the approval of the cleanup plan, Gibbs said.

There are also metals, including chromium, in the soil on the site, according to the state report. Chromium is considered a toxic carcinogen by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The state's investigation found minimal and isolated levels of chromium and other metals.

Gibbs added that an interim cleanup operation was approved in 2004.

Geri Lopez, the city's economic development and housing director, said the city could declare the site a brownfield and apply for federal grants to help pay for cleaning it up.

"There's not a lot of available land that is zoned industrial. It's a great location for an industry like tech that would be beneficial to the city," Lopez said.

Charlie Frago can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. Follow @CharlieFrago on Twitter.

Comments
Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

TAMPA — Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has watched plenty of film on Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.Kucherov marveled how the 2015-16 league MVP uses deception to "hide" from defenders. He noticed how patient Kane was with the puck, how well he passed ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

TAMPA — The Lightning entered Wednesday’s game against the Blackhawks determined to avoid its first losing streak of the season. And it did in dramatic fashion, with Brayden Point’s power-play goal in overtime lifting it to a 3-2 victory. "A big boun...
Updated: 6 hours ago
SOCom asking rifle makers for single weapon to serve many sniper roles

SOCom asking rifle makers for single weapon to serve many sniper roles

When Ryan Cleckner was an Army Ranger sniper in Afghanistan, he had as many as nine rifles he would use in different situations. But whenever a mission would evolve quickly, he would have to choose which ones to lug onto a helicopter. Even narrowing ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

Lys Isma was born in Haiti, but she’s used to driving in Miami with a license, going to college and living without fear of being deported.The Florida International University biology student has lived in Florida since she was 9 months old. Undocument...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Basketball: USF Bulls bounce back with rout of Howard; FSU, Miami win

TAMPA — Three nights after running out of steam in a loss at Indiana, USF had enough to steamroll Howard of the MEAC.A 17-1 run late in the first half helped the Bulls to a 75-52 win Wednesday before an announced Sun Dome crowd of 2,080. USF (3-2) he...
Updated: 7 hours ago
From USF-UCF, to UF-FSU, to Alabama-Auburn, it’s a busy college football Thanksgiving weekend

From USF-UCF, to UF-FSU, to Alabama-Auburn, it’s a busy college football Thanksgiving weekend

 
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

TAMPA — The Bucs have some positive momentum with back-to-back wins, but DT Gerald McCoy said it’s too soon to say his 4-6 team has turned a corner."We haven’t turned a corner yet," McCoy said Wednesday, preparing for Sunday’s game at Atlanta. "It’s ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Across country, small retailers aim for emotional ties big chains may lack

Across country, small retailers aim for emotional ties big chains may lack

Associated PressSome smaller retailers will tug at shoppers’ heartstrings during the holidays, trying to create an emotional experience or connection that a big national chain might not provide.Store owners are going well beyond the usual holiday dec...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Wed., Nov. 22, midday:76 001 3688e_SRit36220Wed., Nov. 22, evening:18 535 9156e_SRit57364LottoWed., Nov....
Updated: 9 hours ago

Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top aides — including chief of staff Reince Priebus and foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka — failed to file legally required financial reports after they were dismissed this summer, according to government re...
Updated: 9 hours ago