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Soil cleanup not slowing down North Augusta baseball stadium

Augusta GreenJackets (copy)

The Augusta GreenJackets' new stadium in North Augusta is starting to take shape. Pictured above is the third base line and left field sections.

Contaminated soil recently discovered at the Augusta GreenJackets' baseball site isn't turning into the curveball some North Augusta residents may think.

City officials say the contamination is not hazardous, and that it's being removed out of an abundance of caution.

Speaking to the harmlessness of the substance, North Augusta Councilman Fletcher Dickert said technically speaking, water containing the substance is potable.

"Technically you could drink water we’re calling contaminated in certain parts of the country," Dickert said. "We’re trying to be abundantly cautious about it and do the right thing."

The soil contamination issue was the main focus of a discussion during a study session Monday, in which Council members received an update on Riverside Village from James Dean, the City's owner's representative for the stadium project.

Dean said the contaminated soil is concentrated in an area near what will be left centerfield for the GreenJackets' stadium. It's being excavated, pumped into a frack tank and then drained.

The contaminated substance is then hauled off to Three Rivers, he said.

“It's (in) such (a) form that it's not flowing anymore. It's embedded in the soil and has a vapor to it," Dean said.

Formerly known as Project Jackson, Riverside Village at Hammond's Ferry is the name assigned to a mixed use development along the Savannah River, situated between The River Club and Hammond's Ferry.

Anchored by a baseball stadium, it also includes a plethora of residential, retail and office uses. A Crowne Plaza hotel and a mixed-use building are scheduled for review at Thursday's North Augusta Planning Commission meeting.

Dean said despite the contaminated soil and recent heavy rains, the baseball stadium is moving forward on schedule. It's expected to open by April 2018.

“In spite of all the rain and all these issues, we keep on marching,” Dean said. "I think overall we’re really pleased with the progress. We're confident we're going to meet all the date requirements."

In other business, during the regular Council meeting, Council members approved first and second reading of the comprehensive plan. The plan includes some additions described as "key initiatives" guiding the future planning decisions.

The vote was unanimous, though in the earlier study session Dickert expressed concerns that the public might not be receiving ample time to comment on the plan. He asked for the Council to only hold first reading.

"I just don’t get the feeling the public has seen this," Dickert said.

North Augusta City Attorney Kelly Zier said the plan is already delinquent, and ot moving forward could pose legal complications should an applicant submit plans without an up-to-date comprehensive plan.

The plan can be viewed online at www.northaugusta.net.

Council members also discussed a request from Public Safety concerning an E1 Pumper truck.

Public Safety Chief John Thomas said it would cost $560,000 to replace the aging vehicle with a new one. The engine could be replaced for $53,000 and rebuilt for $32,000, which is the option Council members favored.

Thomas said action on the truck was needed to preserve insurance ratings in the City.