FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Fort Wayne's city council will discuss buying the North River property during this week's meeting.
The city is hoping to buy the former OmniSource site at the corner of Clinton and Fourth Streets, right across from Science Central.
The property was used as a rail yard and metals recycling facility for more than 100 years.
As part of the agreement city officials signed July 27, the current owners, Calhoun Investments LLC, wouldn't be responsible for any environmental clean up for the site.
Fort Wayne Community Development Director Greg Leatherman said the property isn't as contaminated as people may think.
However, people don't think tax payers should pay to clean up the mess.
"It's something I don't feel citizens should be responsible for as for as tax money goes," said Audum North.
Council members said there's too many unknowns about the purchase agreement, including how much environmental clean up will cost if OmniSource is off the hook.
Councilman Russ Jehl said council should've known something about the agreement when it was signed July 27.
"It's very unusual for executives to leave the board in the dark until just a couple weeks before a large purchase agreement is supposed to close," said Jehl.
Leatherman said soil and ground water tests were done 10 years ago.
He said he couldn't release details because of a confidentiality agreement, but he said the tests showed contamination was only in the top layer, about a foot deep.
Leatherman said there was more clean up needed 20 years ago where Headwaters Park is now than what the North River property needs.
"We've cleaned them all up successfully with the help of IDEM and Brownfield Apartments. I can say without a doubt this is less contaminated site," said Leatherman.
That still doesn't sit well with councilman Michael Barranda, an attorney who practices insurance law.
He said he wants the agreement to include the possibility of going after insurance claims to pay for the clean up.
"If there is insurance in place, it belongs to the seller. If the seller is being fully indemnified then the insurance company would have reason to say 'No, we're not going to give you any insurance proceeds because you have no liability,'" said Barranda.
Leatherman said the agreement will still allow them to go after those claims.
However, until taxpayers, like North, know how much it will cost, they're not on board.
"Without having that information, and asking the city to write a blank check, doesn't seem quite right to me," said North.
City council will discuss buying the property during its next meeting 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 21 in Citizens Square.