City to Pay for Soil Contamination?

Mark Foster, writing for the Kane County Chronicle June 27, 2018, “Batavia works on soil cleanup plan to ready for Shodeen project,” writes:

The city staff of Batavia is formulating a plan to clean up the One Washington Place downtown redevelopment site, which is contaminated by lead….

“We’re still hoping for a groundbreaking this fall,” Batavia economic development consultant Chris Aiston said.

Soil borings conducted in April revealed that lead concentrations exceeding acceptable limits are present on the north side of the site along State Street under the existing city parking garage and up the hill to the east.

A subsequent report from Oak Brook-based environmental engineering firm Huff & Huff estimated that about 10,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil filling hundreds of dump trucks will need to be removed from the site.

Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm said the city intends to combine into a single contract both the soil remediation and the remaining demolition work for the site, including razing the existing two-level parking garage.

The city expects to seek bids in mid-July before awarding the contract, with work anticipated to get underway the following month, Holm said….

Previous cost estimates for the soil removal, hauling and waste facility tipping fees have ranged from $350,000 to $1 million.

Aiston said all the demolition and soil remediation costs will be reimbursed from the tax-increment financing district that the city created specifically for the project.

How did the City, i.e., taxpayers, end up assuming the cost of cleaning up the soil contamination for the Shodeen project? There was no item on a City Council or COW agenda that addressed the issue.

And not only is there NO MONEY to pay for it in the TIF District that the project is in (TIF 5), because there are no buildings to generate revenue, but TIF 5 is already millions of dollars in debt to TIFs 1 & 3 that have loaned it money THAT THEY DON’T HAVE, going into debt for property purchases and other costs related to the Shodeen project. So if TIF 5 has no money, and TIFs 1 & 3 have no money, where is the money coming from to pay these costs?

Furthermore, TIF 5 will not begin to generate tax income until the apartments project is built. Even then, the taxes will go first to paying off the $16 million General Obligation bonds–for 20 years. Will there be enough to pay the bonds? We don’t know. No one knows. The aldermen won’t even guess at what the interest or payments might be. If it falls short, Shodeen is supposed to pay more taxes to meet the bond payments. But he has no obligation to pay the loans from the TIFs.

So who exactly is paying for the soil contamination remediation?

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