The option on the North River – Omni Source – property expires at the end of December. And it looks like the City will allow its expiration without moving on it other than to ascertain whether it should be extended. The purchase option cost the city $25,000, which would have been applied to the purchase price.
Given the public’s heightened awareness of the project’s potential environmental issues, the decision to not proceed on the option is a good one. While I support efforts to revitalize downtown and create projects which draw citizens from all areas, I am also not quite convinced that the North River project has received full scrutiny, especially in the area of environmental concerns.
The “mess” at Don Hall’s Gas House should be enough to make anyone stop and think about resolving environmental issues before they become a problem. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) – here we go again, one of my “favorite” state agencies – has already approved NIPSCO’s “voluntary remediation plan” which calls for the removal of more than 2.4 million gallons of contaminated soil and coal tar from the area surrounding the restaurant at 305 E. Superior Street. which sits on the site of a facility that converted coal into gas between 1851 and the late 1940s.
The last thing Mayor Richard’s needs on his hands as he leaves office is to force a purchase which could later be found to have potentially damaging environmental issues involved. The city already has studies of the property and should release those studies to the public. After all, we are the ones who will be frequenting the project if it goes through.
In this case, the old saying “Caveat Emptor” exists for a reason, and it certainly applies to the North River project.
View from Nick’s Riverside Lounge