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Council: ‘oil squeaky wheel’ on skate park

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

Plans for a new skateboard/basketball park in Pulaski are in limbo, but town staff is hopeful required approvals will be received in time for work to begin this summer.

The town plans to use a brownfield grant, as well as other grant and donated funds, to construct the park on First Street N.E. It would be on a brownfield property that has contaminants from a foundry that operated there in the past. Concrete and asphalt slabs that would form the base of the park will encapsulate the contaminated soil, making the property safe for reuse.

The town initially planned to use the brownfield grant to establish a farmer’s market and community raised-bed garden on the land, so Virginia Department of Environmental Quality must approve the change in use before brownfield money can be used on the park project.

Town Manager Shawn Utt said the official request for change was formally submitted to DEQ in July or August 2018, but has not yet been approved. He says DEQ is short staffed and has apologized for the delay in action.

“They verbally committed to it, but had a few questions of Draper Aden Associates,” which oversees the town’s brownfield program, Utt recently told members of Pulaski Town Council.

Different standards of contamination abatement are required dependant upon the proposed reuse. Commercial reuse has the lowest standards, recreational reuse has a higher standard, and residential reuse has the highest standards.

“They have to justify bringing it up to a recreational level,” he said.

The town already had requested and received an extension of the grant use deadline to the end of June. Due to no fault of the town, Utt said a second extension most likely will be requested to the end of the 2019 calendar year to allow the town time to receive approvals and use the grant funds.

“We hope to get the written approval in the coming weeks. That will allow us to seek bids and work forward,” he added.

Council urged staff to keep “oiling the squeaky wheel” by staying in contact with DEQ and pushing for a decision.

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