The cost of a new St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) ballpark could rise another $9 million after further testing revealed more environmental issues than anticipated.
The increased cost has nothing to do with the actual ballpark, and the city would be on the hook for the clean-up costs no matter what was built on the old Gillette/Diamond Products site. St. Paul’s Lowertown has a century-plus history as an industrial site; between gas storage, a gassification plant and a packing plant, lots of environmentally nasty activities took place there. The issue isn’t the amount of contaminated soil, but rather the amount of debris on the site. All of that debris needs to be removed. From the Pioneer Press:
Logan Gerken, a ballpark architect with Ryan Cos., said the city did not previously have control of land and parking lots north of Fifth Street, such as the Market House Condominium lot. Those are key locations where testing — which took place last fall and again in April — uncovered unexpectedly high amounts of soil unfit for building.
“It’s not environmentally contaminated soil,” Gerken said. “It’s debris-laden soil … as opposed to dirt that’s maybe contaminated with petroleum products. We’re not finding additional environmental contamination. We’re just finding additional debris.”…
“The added cost to this project shouldn’t be a game-changer,” said Mike Fratto, a longtime St. Paul resident who has been active on city and county issues. “Any project scheduled for this area would need to have soil mitigation. I doubt anyone but the city would pony up the money to cover its cost.”
Still, it has the potential to cause some political damage for Mayor Chris Coleman; his reelection opponent, Tim Holden, has come out strongly against the ballpark project and says it should be scrapped.
Image courtesy City of St. Paul.
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