Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

Depot LLC considered

Move would shield Cheney society assets if pre-move site clean up is needed

 


The Cheney Depot Society is considering forming a limited liability company (LLC) to address any potential clean up at a proposed new location for the former Northern Pacific rail station.

At the June 1 Cheney Historic Preservation Commission meeting, commission Chair and Depot Society board president Dr. Charles Mutschler said the LLC would only manage the property. The additional “layer” should shield the assets of the society if any environmental remediation is needed at the First Street property previously occupied by Dow Landscape Materials — which moved to a new location further west on First Street.

In an interview June 5, Depot Society board member Sue Beeman said the LLC comes at the suggestion of a private contractor the society hired to do an environmental assessment, of which the first phase — records collection — has been completed. The contractor, who previously worked with the state’s Department of Ecology, told the them it’s common practice of non-profits engaged in such activities, and would be supporting of its 501 (c) 3 designation.

“It’s legal and that’s what people do to protect the assets of the main organization,” Beeman said.

Beeman cautioned nothing has been done yet with the LLC, as a letter to the current property owners had just been sent. According to information from Spokane County’s SCOUT website, the 26,800-square-foot property at 15 Union St. is owned by Sunshine Investments, a partnership between Gary Geschke, Lynda Gumnick and Robert Paetz.

Sunshine offered to donate the land in late November 2016, but advised the society of possible environmental issues. Before Dow occupied the property, the land was used by an oil-heat distributor.

Beeman said the main concern is not the activities on that site specifically, but what took place next door. The society purchased the property next to Sunshine’s at the same time Geschke and his partners made the offer — and that property at the corner of First and I streets is across from a former Conoco service station.

Additionally, Beeman said the current site of Sears just south of the Union Street property was a Cenex fueling station. It’s unknown if any leaks from underground tanks occurred and how far those leaks spread.

“We think there might be a problem,” Beeman said. “We’re not going to disturb the ground to prove there’s a problem.”

The letter to Sunshine is to advise them of the circumstances and make sure they are OK with donating to an LLC.

Beeman said the society has spent “many, many hours” learning about environmental issues and how to deal with them. If Sunshine accepts the LLC, the society is considering filling in the Union Street site, first with an impermeable layer of clay, followed by protective fabric and then topped with dirt to bring the potential future location of the depot flush with the level of First Street. Mutschler said at the meeting that would entail raising the depot about 4–5 feet, and would make it ADA accessible.

In another development with the depot, Beeman said the engineering firm Parametrix has completed a survey of the site. The firm, which also does contract work with the city, donated a portion of the survey.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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