WESTMINSTER — The final part of an environmental assessment of a downtown buildingbeing eyed as a future home for the city's police department should be completed in the next week, city officials said.
The building, still officially unidentified, is the former Westminster Auto Parts store on Locust Street, owned by William Small, who also owns a new Westminster Auto Parts store a block from the former location.
Small was out of town and unavailable for comment, but a store employee confirmed Small owns the building in question.
The first phase of the environment survey, which was completed earlier this year,revealed "nothing that would pose any problems" in renovating the 12,000-square-foot structure, said Thomas B. Beyard, director of planning.
"There are some certain things that we need to follow, but they're nothing unique," he said.
They include recommendations on howto handle the removal of floor and ceiling tiles, which often contain material that could be hazardous when released into the air, Beyardsaid. The cost of the first phase was $2,340.
City officials are awaiting the results of soil samples taken at the site, where an underground storage tank was once located. The owner is expected to pick up the $600 cost of that part of the assessment, Beyard said.
"We don't expect any problems," Beyard said. "But we have to make sure that when the tank was removed there was no traces of contaminants leftin the soil -- that there's nothing that would raise a red flag."
Beyard would not release a copy of the environmental survey because the document contains references to the still officially unidentifiedbuilding.
The council has approved obtaining a 90-day option to purchase the cinder-block building and land, but city officials have not officially identified the parcel because of the pending deal.
That option came after the council unanimously voted to reverse a previous decision to go forward with a $3.4 million expansion of Emerald Hill and construction of a new building for the police department.
Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, pleased with the council's new direction inresolving staff space problems, said the owner has been asked not tosell the building to another party during the 90 days.
"That's more than enough time to finish the environmental and structural survey," he said.
Once the environmental survey is completed, an architectural and structural soundness study will be performed on the building to see how much it would cost to renovate the facility, he said.
Brown said the city first looked at the building a year ago. Both the mayor and council members have toured the building several times.
"I have confidence that when all the numbers are in, the council will feel comfortable going in this direction," Brown said. "It will accomplish our needs and should be less than half of the $3.4 million expansion of City Hall and construction of a new police facility."
Brown also has proposed the city look at renovating Longwell Armory for use by some city agencies. Its renovation would require the removal of pipe and boiler insulation containing asbestos.
Neither Brown nor city officials expressed concerns about asbestos removal from the building, now used by the police and YMCA.
He said the buildingwas inspected prior to police taking over the space 10 years ago andthe asbestos was determined not to be dangerous. But, he said, the insulation would have to be removed during a renovation, which "is rather a minor event."
Beyard agreed: "It's not unique to find asbestos in insulation."