County approves loans for cleanup of baseball stadium site

By: Thomas Franz | Shelby - Utica News | Published August 10, 2015


MOUNT CLEMENS — A pair of contracts that will help support the cleanup of the future site of Jimmy John’s Field near downtown Utica were approved by the Macomb County Board of Commissioners’ Finance Committee on Aug. 6.

The first contract is between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Macomb County, which will receive a $1 million loan from the DEQ.

The second contract is between Macomb County and GS Entertainment LLC, which will undertake the environmental response work and reimburse the county for the loan repayment.

The loan is to be repaid by General Sports, the Rochester-based firm developing the site, over a 10-year period from 2020-2030. The loan was made through the Clean Michigan Initiative.

“The CMI is a pot of money set aside by the state for environmental remediation and cleanup where the county can borrow up to $1 million for remediation of the site for cleanup of the environmental contaminants that are there,” said Jeff Schroeder, of the county’s Planning and Economic Development Department.

A work plan provided during the Finance Committee meeting was one of several documents that gave insight into the background of the site and what work will go into cleaning it up.

The 15-acre plot — located on the west side of downtown Utica along the Clinton River on Auburn Road, east of Moscone Drive — was used as a dump from the 1940s through the 1960s, and it has been vacant since.

A multi-story residential site constructed on the east side of the parcel in 2008 was never occupied and was demolished in 2014.

An environmental conditions section of the work plan states that waste material is present across the site from near the surface to more than 20 feet below grade. The work plan cites several studies on that area to summarize that the parcel harbors soil, waste material and groundwater that is impacted by volatile organic compounds, and that methane gas levels ranged across the site from 0.5 percent to 38 percent, which exceeds a lower explosive limit of 5 percent.

To reduce those levels and make the site suitable for development, the work plan outlines several aspects of the cleanup, including the removal of contaminated waste materials and the installation of dermal contact barriers over the remaining waste.

Methane gas mitigation systems will be installed in the stadium grandstand and on the site perimeter, and engineering controls for a stormwater system to reduce runoff into the waste material will also be installed.

With the loan approved now, work can begin on the environmental cleanup of the site in addition to the ongoing preliminary engineering work.

“From what we’ve seen, it’s been all preliminary engineering work that’s been done out there. Some pilings have been done, but there’s a lot of work that’s being done out there,” Schroeder said. “The way this is being scheduled by the engineering consultants who are out there, there’s work that needs to be done just to clear the land and level it.”

During a discussion on the details of the contracts, Commissioner Fred Miller, D-Mount Clemens, expressed concerns regarding traffic flow around the stadium, and whether or not the county would incur more costs if roads have to be reconstructed around the stadium.

Schroeder said exact plans have not been made for traffic flow other than the addition of a 500-space parking lot that will be used for the ballpark and downtown businesses, but Utica’s experience in hosting events should help with traffic concerns.

“There will be more increased traffic (in) Utica on ballpark days, but Utica does host a number of different festivals and events, and the number of people we’ll see coming in will probably be similar to that,” Schroeder said. “I know the city has reached out to both MDOT and the (Macomb County Department of Roads) to talk to them about those issues.”

The stadium is scheduled to begin hosting games for the United Shore Professional Baseball League next summer.