SnoDrifters concerned about pollution at possible storage site

The North Branch SnoDrifters club is planning to buy the old Branch City Hall property from North Branch, but that purchase is contingent upon an inspection for possible pollutants.

Scott Gillette, the president of the SnoDrifters, said he was informed the site was a former dump, an assertion confirmed by North Branch City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad and council member Ron Lindquist at the council’s Monday night meeting.

Lindquist said he thought the site might have been a dump for Branch Township before the Branch City hall was built on it in the early 1960s.

The SnoDrifters were planning to acquire the property, located off St. Croix Trail, right accross from Hemingway Avenue, from the city in a bartering manner, agreeing to build a 40-by-60-foot storage building on the city’s wastewater treatment plant site as payment for the old Branch City Hall site.

But Gillette said he was concerned about any potential liability that the club might incur if it were to acquire the site for storage of its gear without knowing what lies beneath the soil.

“Our concern isn’t so much about anything we would do with the property in terms of building something – my primary concern is with any potential liability due to what’s there that we don’t know,” he said.

City Attorney Thomas Miller suggested the council pay a company to complete a phase 1 inspection of the area, which would entail going back through records to determine what was dumped there.

He estimated the cost for the inspection would be around $1,500-$2,000.

If the SnoDrifters and the city were not satisfied with the results of that inspection, he said soil borings could be done for around the same price.

Gillette said that sounded like a good suggestion to him, adding that the SnoDrifters would split the cost of a phase 1 inspection with the city.

Not pursing trail grant

Also during the meeting, the council decided to forgo pursing a grant that would have allowed the city to extend the Sunrise Prairie Trail from North Branch to Harris.

The application deadline for the grant is Sept. 28, and the council members came to a unanimous decision that wasn’t enough time to put together a comprehensive grant request, or inform residents who might be affected by trail construction.

Boy scout project

Before the discussion about the grant, North Branch Boy Scout Ryan Hillestad approached the council about an Eagle Scout project he is planning.

He asked the council if he could construct six wood duck houses and repair four benches at Riverwalk Park.

The council unanimously approved his request.

“Becoming an eagle scout is quite an accomplishment,” Mayor Amy Oehlers said. “Your city council is proud of you.”

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