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Elkhorn talking options on decayed West Centralia facility

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
March 31, 2010
— The city of Elkhorn could receive $100,000 from the state to demolish and potentially redevelop an abandoned property on the city's south side.

But city officials need to be work out details before cashing the check, part of a $1.5 million grant distributed statewide.


“There are still some issues to be resolved, not the least of which is for the city to take title of the property,” City Administrator Sam Tapson said.


The property that qualifies for the grant is the old Oak Communications System building, a manufacturing facility at 201 W. Centralia St. The property is decayed and unused. It also has a range of environmental issues typical of manufacturing contamination in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Tapson said.


The property belongs to Walworth State Bank, which acquired it through foreclosure.


The bank's president and CEO, Bob Klockars, said he would hand over the property to Elkhorn any day.


But city officials don't want to take ownership that way, Tapson said. Receiving the property from Walworth State Bank also means accepting liability for cleaning up the place.


Cleanup could cost nearly $250,000, a price the city isn't ready to cough up at the taxpayer's expense.


Instead, city officials want the bank to participate in a cost-sharing program.


Klockars said the bank's offer to hand over the property at no cost is generous, and he would rather not spend additional funds.


Tapson said the next step is to obtain the property through condemnation, a process that the administrator said would eliminate the city's liability for an immediate cleanup.


Officials are scheduled to discuss options for the property at the city council's upcoming meeting on Monday, April 5. Tapson said that portion of the meeting likely would be closed.


Elkhorn's grant is part of a group of 34 Brownfield grants awarded in 2010.


Also on the state's list of grant recipients are the towns of Geneva, which was awarded $30,000 for the redevelopment of Como Auto Salvage, and Troy, which was awarded $29,500 to conduct property investigation of Troy Auto.



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