BROOKSVILLE — The planned cleanup of the contaminated soil and water at the county's old Department of Public Works site has dragged on for more than 17 years and, so far, the focus has been on testing.
On Wednesday, a new chapter was opened.
The County Commission voted unanimously to spend $130,000 to buy two parcels adjacent to the southeast corner of the compound and secure a release from property owners saying they will not pursue any future personal injury claims arising from the contaminated site.
The commission's action provided for the purchase of a single-family home and an adjacent vacant lot owned by Essie Mae Holmes and Sandra Holmes.
Property appraiser records place the value at $52,663 on the 2008 tax rolls.
"Since acceptable soil levels differ for on-site versus off-site property, DEP (the state Department of Environmental Protection) suggests informally that the county purchase of the parcels ... would lower remediation costs and demonstrate county good faith in beginning to resolve neighborhood issues,'' according to the staff memo to commissioners.
"The purchase price is just a small portion of the amount spent on soil assessment for the old DPW site,'' the staff memo said.
The money would come from a fund set aside to pay costs related to the contamination at the compound, which is on Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard on the south side of Brooksville.
The county is also in conversation with the owner of another parcel that may be purchased.
Commissioner Jim Adkins, who reminded fellow commissioners that he doesn't usually favor county home purchases, explained that he was willing to spend the money in this case since the county caused the problem.
Commission Chairman Dave Russell agreed. "I'd do almost anything to be done with it,'' he said.
The compound is contaminated with a variety of chemical and petroleum products from its years of use by the Department of Public Works. Once final testing is completed, the county expects to work with the DEP on a formal plan to clean up the site.
Several months ago, again to demonstrate the county's interest in finally moving the remediation forward, the top several feet of soil were removed from part of the area and replaced with clean fill dirt.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.