Environmental problem found at old power plant

Published 10:04 am Saturday, April 11, 2015

The City of Franklin granted a contract extension for the sale of the old power plant on Mechanic Street to Highground Services Inc. for an additional environmental investigation earlier this year.

The underground tanks on the exterior grounds of the building had been removed, but one site where a tank was likely buried contained traces of petroleum-based products at the maximum levels allowed by the Department of Environmental Quality. The city will now be required to work with DEQ on remediation. Should costs be significant, City Manager Randy Martin said they would qualify for and pursue state funds earmarked for such work.

Meanwhile, city attorney Taylor Williams had to advise council for another contract extension on the previously reported $40,000 sale of the property to Highground, a graduate of the Franklin Business Incubator. Originally seeking a 60-day extension from March 31, Council granted a 90-day extension to close on the contract by June 30. This allows the company time to do its due diligence on the property before finalizing the sale.

Ward 3 representative Greg McLemore thought the city ought to consider raising the price of the sale due to all of the setbacks. He has also expressed concern in the past that the price tag was too low.

Martin said the extension in itself will not cost the city anything. And no matter what, the remediation would have been the city’s burden to bear. The city manager said he anticipates that the costs will be minimal.

Further, Martin said the city will not be losing money on the sale of the property. It will also gain a business on its tax rolls, and this enables Highground to keep its $3 million-plus payroll local, as well.

The vote was 5-0, with Benny Burgess recusing himself and Frank Rabil absent.