Friday, June 02, 2006

TOP STORY>> Library site cleanup

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Couple may have to spend $25,000 to remove gasoline tanks before construction can begin on Main Street in Jacksonville.

It may end up costing Paul and Dee Shaeffer as much as $25,000 to clean up the site of their Texaco station on Main Street in Jacksonville before turning over the property they had sold to the city for construction of a new library.

This week, workers began digging up and removing the underground gasoline storage tanks at the Texaco station to prepare the site for an environmental inspection.

“As part of the land deal, the sellers agreed to remove the tanks and get the site inspected by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality,” Jack-sonville Mayor Tommy Swaim told The Leader.

Doug Szenher, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, said each gas station cleanup inspections include water and soil and water testing of the property.

”We test the ground below where the tanks were to see if any significant amounts of contamination is in the soil or ground water,” Szenher said. Bobby Roberts, director of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), says building on the site of the gas station shouldn’t pose any health risks for library employees or patrons.

“The ground will be tested, and assuming it meets all the test requirements, it should be fine,” Roberts said. The Shaeffers agreed to sell the last full-service gas station in Jacksonville two weeks ago as part of a land deal for the new city library.

The city also has agreed to buy the adjacent building from Mrs. Mike Abdin which housed Dis-count Tobacco and Fish Net Mis-sions thrift store on the west. The two lots, totaling slightly more than an acre, will cost the city $380,300. The city is negotiating the purchase additional property, including a building and lot owned by the Dougherty family on the east side of the block.

In July 2004, Jacksonville residents approved a one-mill property tax increase to pay off $2.5 million in bonds to build the new library building.

The new library building will be approximately 13,500 square feet. The building and property will be owned by the city while CALS provides the employees and materials.

Once the land is cleared of existing structures, CALS will host several public meetings before designing the building.

“We’ll have several meetings in Jacksonville to see what the residents would like the library to look like and what materials they want inside,” Roberts said.

Jacksonville’s existing library at 308 W. Main was named the Esther D. Nixon Library in 1992 to honor of Jacksonville’s first librarian.

The 9,265-square-foot Nixon library was built in 1969, making it one of the oldest and smallest buildings in CALS. The average CALS building is 5 years old and has about 14,000 square feet.

In 2004, the Nixon library was closed for a month while a leak in the roof was repaired.

About 200 books and several computers were damaged from the leak.