Consultants finish 'Phase I' environmental assessment on Manton gas station

Pictured to the left is the True North gas station. To the right is the property True North would like to obtain for their new station in Manton. In the center is a sign indicating the fundraising progress for the city’s new library.

MANTON — The wheels are back in motion on a proposed deal between the city of Manton and True North gas station.

True North several months ago approached the city with an offer to donate $200,000 toward construction of the Manton library in exchange for land across the street from their current gas station to be used as the future site of a new station. If approved, True North has agreed to clean up existing contamination on their property, which will in turn be used as the future site of the library.

A split commission in August voted to form a committee tasked with advancing land swap negotiations with True North but when it came time last month to approve the committee assembled by Mayor Sam Cronkhite, the motion received no second and it died on the floor.

Commissioners that could have provided the second were Rebecca Middleton, Marcie Wilson and Lisa Gillett. Commissioners Rick Rayment, Sue Fullerton and William Bates couldn’t provide the second because they were either chosen to be on the committee or in the case of Rayment, made the initial motion.

Middleton previously voted against moving forward with the plan without first conducting a Phase II environmental assessment, which was the recommendation of city attorney Thomas Grier.

Wilson said she also was concerned about moving forward without finding out the extent of contamination under the gas station and last month invited an official from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to share information with the commission about the risks associated with doing so.

Following a closed session discussion during a special meeting Wednesday, the board unanimously approved a resolution that entailed the formation of a new group tasked with working with True North on the proposal.

The new group is comprised of city attorney Thomas Grier, Jennifer Hodges, project manager for the Traverse City-based engineering firm Gourdie Fraser Inc., and Roger Mawby, president of the environmental consulting firm Otwell Mawby, P.C., which conducted the Phase I assessment of the property.

The new group does not contain any members of the city commission or representatives of the Manton Library.

Cronkhite said the group will provide regular updates to the commissioners on their negotiations and recommendations regarding the proposal.

The commission will make the final decision on whether or not to enter into a formal agreement with True North at a future meeting.

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