Planning and Development Services Director Renee Mathis presented an update on the Landmark Square construction and soil contamination. These updates were a factor in the need for an amendment to the CIP budget.
In 2013, a site assessment was held to determine the presence of contamination or environmental issues. The results at that time showed no evidence of contamination.
The property was purchased by the City of Clovis in January of 2015. This project would be home to the new Senior Center, Transit facility, and Fresno County Library.
After the purchase 12 engineering samples were taken throughout the site to evaluate the soil characteristics for the future design foundations and construction. These samples concluded with no contamination, odors, or discoloration.
After Environmental Impact Reports and documents were certified, and a company was awarded the contract, construction would begin in February of this year.
However, a month later, soil contamination was discovered during site grading. These contaminants were discovered under the foundations of a previous building.
The soil contamination was between three to five feet below the surface.
After digging further to discover the extent of the contamination, the lower limit was found at 35 feet in depth and 100 feet in diameter. Within this area a tar-like material with debris was discovered.
According to Mathis’ presentation, over 2,000 cubic yards of discolored soil was excavated, stored on the side (for sampling), and then properly disposed of off-site.
For the past 10 months, the City has been addressing the contamination and working with regulatory agencies to resolve this issue.
In April of this year, the City worked with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to evaluate the soil contamination and to ensure the future buildings on-site are safe.
Additional testing was conducted and reported with DTSC to determine if health risks remain and, if so, the appropriate building protections required for this. An independent toxicologist reported the health risks are low and no additional protections were necessary.
DTSC was not convinced of the independent toxicologist’s report and continues to require additional sampling and analysis by the City.
DTSC has not completed their review and the site construction has been limited.
In an effort to slowly move forward with construction, a vapor barrier was designed for the buildings. This barrier is a layer of durable sheets of plastic that prevent moisture from moving into the buildings and prevents underground vapors from entering the buildings.
This system was approved by DTSC and the City Council. The City continues to work with the DTSC on other monitoring/mitigation recommendations for the site.
The contamination and cleanup efforts accumulated an additional $3.2 million to the project budget, totaling $23 million.
One question on Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua’s mind was the cause of the contaminated soil. Renee Mathis gave the council a partial answer.
“We were able to determine the type of contamination,” Mathis said. “Oil, gasoline, diesel. The cause of it, I have not heard what the cause of it is. I know on the site there was the old lumber mill, a taxidermy, I believe there was an automotive repair, but I don’t know that through any of the historical research that pinpointed a particular business that is accountable.”
City Manager Luke Serpa mentioned that the site was home to a rail yard when the railroad was new.
The council voted unanimously 3-0 to pass the budget amendment for the Landmark Project. Councilmember Bob Whalen was absent from the meeting and Mayor Jose Flores was unable to vote on the item due to a conflict of interest.
To learn more about the Landmark Square Project amendment, you can visit the City of Clovis YouTube page. You can also visit the City of Clovis website at cityofclovis.com/government/city-council/city-council-agendas/.