City council votes to accept donation of Valspar property
The Picayune City Council voted to move forward with accepting the donation of the Valspar property of 28 acres located at 210 Crosby Street during yesterday’s meeting.
New information presented by City Attorney Nathan Farmer during the meeting revealed that the Valspar site was a designated “Victim Site” due to its adjacency to the Wood Treating property site that was a Superfund site (requiring cleanup and abatement of hazardous materials). Farmer stated the Valspar site was not part of the Superfund site as had been previously thought, and presented, in prior discussions with the council back in August of 2020.
Farmer said the Phase I assessment that has been performed on the Valspar site put the city in a state of bonafide purchaser protection status should a future assessment prove the presence of contaminants that will need to be removed from the Valspar property that were not a result of the adjacent Superfund site contamination.
Farmer stated he had conversations earlier with Thomas Wallace of the Mississippi Dept of Environmental Quality and had received an email from Wallace that was presented to the council members just hours before the council meeting. According to Farmer’s explanation of the email, he said the Valspar is eligible under the Mississippi Brownfield Program due to its designation as a victim property should any future clean up actions be needed at the site. Farmer said his understanding is a Brownfield site agreement requires a plan for known contamination and may be entered into by the current or future owner of the site. The only exception for the Brownfield Program would be the water table contamination from the adjacent Superfund site.
A Brownfields site is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. A grant program exists to help with the funding for the cleanup, however such grant programs are highly competitive and could take years to acquire.
In the meantime, Farmer said the city could move forward with accepting the donation being aware that future action on the Valspar property may be necessary. He also said Wallace told him future assessment of the property will be needed to ensure the Valspar property is capable of reuse.
During discussion with Farmer, council member Wayne Gouguet had a lengthy question and answer session to validate the new information provided by Farmer. Gouguet appeared satisfied that the city will have avenues to seek financial assistance for cleanup of the property should a problem arise.
Councilperson Tammy Valente brought two points up after the interaction of Farmer and Gouguet that were her basis for not moving forward with the donation.
Valente referred to Farmer’s statement that the current owner (Sherwin Williams Corp) or future owner (city of Picayune) could move forward with the actions detailed by Farmer. Valente felt it was in the best interest of the city to continue to receive taxes from the property while the future assessments were performed on the property while still owned by Sherwin Williams to determine the future reuse of the said property.
Valente also noted the city would have to maintain the property and thus have city employees on the property while it is being determined safe or unsafe.
The council voted five to one to move forward with the donation with Valente casting the no vote.