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Naplate to meet with EPA on buried storage tank

The EPA requested a meeting this week with Naplate officials to talk about a buried storage tank left at an abandoned auto repair garage, commonly known as the Santucci property on the 1700 block of Ottawa Avenue.

The storage tank's removal is the final step needed to resolve Naplate's now 8-year-old issue.

Santucci property history
In late 2010, the village began receiving complaints about the garage, abandoned and vacant for more than 10 years. The roof was sagging and by the end of July 2011, former Naplate Fire Chief Dave Parrott had the building declared a safety hazard.

The board conducted two public hearings and Michael Santucci, the building's owner, appeared at the first one, agreeing to begin necessary repairs. That was the last time the village had any contact from him and the repairs were never started.

Naplate's ordinance allowed the village to fine Santucci $250 per day until he either brought the building back into a safe condition or had it demolished at his expense. Santucci did not comply and by February 2012, he owed $54,000 in fines.

Village attorney Paul Martin said at the time a court order had re-assessed Santucci's fine to about $27,000. The village was hoping to win $20,000 for demolition costs and out-of-pocket legal expenses during foreclosure proceedings.

Neither the fines nor demolition costs have ever been recovered from Santucci.

The tank was discovered after the village paid for the building's demolition in October/November 2011 at a cost of $9,830 plus an additional $1,350 for asbestos and abatement expenses.

In June 2015, the decision was made to sell the excess property and at that time, it was thought to be the final step in solving the now 8-year-long problem.

The fire marshal's office and the EPA recommended Dynamic, said to be one of the most reputable companies familiar with fire and EPA underground tank removal requirements. The company said the tank's removal could be done in 30 days, if the tank was found to be free from contamination.

In October 2016, the board approved a motion to pay Dynamic Environmental, of Lake Worth, Fla., $6,000 to remove the 1,000 gallon capacity gravel-filled underground storage tank that had been buried on the property since 1992.

The company arrived to remove the tank, only to discover its equipment was not large enough for the job. Dynamic offered to come back with larger equipment but at an increased quote of $7,500 to cover the cost of their time and the fact they didn't have the correct equipment.

"We didn't think at the time that we should have to pay an additional cost because of a mistake Dynamic made," Ludwig said this week. "The environmental tests have all been good and right now we just need to get this tank removed. I'm thinking that the board will have to take some sort of legal action but for now, we just want this situation resolved."

Mooney said the board is investigating the possibility of work at the property across the street from Village Hall, 2000 Ottawa Avenue.

"The building is becoming a safety hazard and it's been an eyesore for several years."

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