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From: Fred H Olson -- WB0YQM (FRED%JWHvx.cis.umn.edu)
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 93 13:53 CST
Mpls Seward cohousing update
                                  Mon  01-25-1993
                                  Fred H. Olson    ( WB0YQM )
                                  Becca Brackett   ( N0CAH )
                                  1221 Russell Av N
                                  Minneapolis, MN 55411
                                  (612) 588-9532
                                  (Internet: fred%jwh [at] vx.cis.umn.edu)

On Tue. 1/19/92 we got a rather depressing report on ground water
pollution at the site.  New estimates of cleanup costs were $150,000 to
do further testing and $1,000,000 to clean it up.  The report was
written by an engineer for the MCDA - Mpls Community Development
Authority. Curiously when he presented the report verbally at a meeting
he gave double those numbers - exactly.  I wonder if he really meant
plus *or minus* %100...

In any case the prospects for the site looked grim.

Sunday night I took the report and some other documents for a Bob
Kadwell, a friend and neighbor of ours to review.  Bob is a geologist
that has a consulting company that does pollution abatement work
among other things.  He also was active on the board of the
Willard-Homewood Organization (WHO) here 10+ years ago. WHO was
instrumental in turning around the demolish and hope to build new
approach to deteriorated housing here.  The Urban Homestead
program and non-profit rehab saved my neighborhood form the wrecking
ball.  and WHO was a part of it.  WHO was one organization featured
in Harry Boytes book _Backyard Democracy_ .

Any way Bob treats reports from the MCDA with the skepticism of
experience.  Some of his points:

The engineer's reccomendation against acquiring the UVB site for
housing seems to assume that the MCDA or new owner would pay for
the cleanup.  This is not necessarily true.  The current owner or the
party responsible for the pollution is liable and may be elgible for
Petro Fund reimbursement.  The Petro Fund is a state program funded by
gas taxes.

There is ground water contamination and it is a problem but may not
interfere with using the site for housing as long as the polluted
water is not used for drinking which of course we would not.

The next step is to get the more detailed reports which Bob will
look at for us.

In the mean time Joan Orke of our group have had some other interesting
conversations.  We talked to Caren Dewar Saxton the neighborhood
developer.  She was pleased to hear our new insights and concurred
with our plan to become somewhat more activist in this matter.
Joan also talked to her friend at the PCA who is in the
'tanks and leaks' division.  She will come to our meeting Thursday
and may even be interested joining the core group!

Curiously, coincident with these turns of events we have had
increased interest in the Seward core group from a number of

Caren had emphasized the perception of risk problem - "it sounds
bad; I dont want to live there".  I assured her that our group is aware
that most sites in the city (where we want to be) are likely to have
some pollution problems.  And that I expect we will try to base
our perception and decision on developing the site on solid
information.  I'm not ready to commit to living there since we
dont have all the information yet.  On the other had I am not ready
to give up on this site yet.

A few other points Caren raised:
1) the site is zoned industrial and this may reduce the cleanup
requirements and lower the cost amking cleanup for housing
2) The perception problem affects marketability and second use potential
which affects financing.
3) If we become property owners of the site we might take on liability
for past pollution.

Also we need to find out more about the history of the site and whether
the truck company is comletely defunct so we can tell who is liable and
is it elgible for Petro Fund.

Ahh, when you find answers to some questions what comes next?  New
questions  and problems, of course.


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