By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer
A former gas station in Sharon may have a future as a playground after it gets a state-paid cleanup.
The station on the 7-acre parcel at North Water Avenue and Clark Street was closed years ago.
A contractor paid by the state removed underground tanks two years ago and notified the state Department of Environmental Protection that they had been leaking, said Kammy Halterman, environmental group manager for the storage tank section at the agency’s office in Meadville.
Now the part of the site where the gas station stood is being evaluated to determine what corrective action it might need.
“The contamination is usually products associated with gasoline,” Halterman said. “We don’t have information yet about just what they are and in what concentrations. We have a contractor who has been collecting soil samples and installing wells to monitor ground water and they will be submitting a report to us. Our geologists will evaluate the report and we’ll go from there.”
The report is due at the end of September.
It will help to determine whether contaminants can be dealt with on the site or whether they must be removed and disposed of elsewhere, Halterman said.
The state program requires liens to be placed on the property so DEP can recover its costs later if the land is ever used for a profit-making venture.
There are also requirements to consult DEP before any excavating can be done, she said.
County property records show the parcel is held under guardianship by Mercer County Area Agency on Aging Inc. because the elderly owner doesn’t have money to pay for the environmental cleanup it needs.
In such cases, the state looks to public entities such as cities or school districts to take ownership of the land once the contamination is cleaned up, City Manager Scott Andrejchak said.
The city’s problem is that it doesn’t have money right now to do anything with the property beyond fencing it and cutting the grass. Renovation of Bicentennial Park downtown already is straining city resources, he said.
If the school district isn’t interested in the land, the parcel likely will remain undeveloped for some years.
Michael Calla, acting school superintendent, wasn’t available for comment.
Even if maintenance costs fall to the city, having the property cleaned up is a good thing, Andrejchak said.
“That’s one of the gateways to the city, so having the state pay to clean it up is positive even if the city can’t afford to do anything with it right now,” he said. “If we get it, we will work with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Sharon Beautification Commission and come up with a plan.”