Backhoes digging on property next to Robe-Ann Park uncovered a store of old bottles and cans that were buried almost four feet underground. Workers were expecting to find abandoned fuel storage tanks.
Parks and Recreation Director Rod Weinschenk said the items included old canning jars, whiskey bottles, perfume bottles, shoe polish containers, make-up containers and other miscellaneous vessels. He said he climbed in the hole and retrieved a couple of them because he thought they were neat. He has no idea why how long they have been there or who placed them there.
Seeking more green space, the parks department recently purchased the property, formerly known as the Clearwaters' property, located next to Robe-Ann Park. They were disappointed when an environmental study revealed the potential for contamination.
The park department could not move forward with the development of the property until the environmental issues were settled.
Weinschenk explained Wednesday that a geotechnical study, similar to an ultrasound, was conducted on the property in November and was followed by a soil sample a month later.
The soil sample revealed a small amount of petroleum in the soil, but the levels were not enough to require a clean-up. Weinschenk and members of the park board thought they were clear to move ahead with the project.
But this week, Weinschenk was contacted by the company that performed the geotechnical survey in November and was told the test revealed an anomaly, or suspicious spot, in the ground, requiring further investigation.
Weinschenk told the city council this week that the ground would have to be excavated to determine if the anomalies were underground storage tanks from a former gas station on the site.
But he was relieved, after crews dug the holes on Wednesday, that the suspicious spots on the ultrasound were actually piles of trash buried underground.
"A some point or another, there was a hole that was filled in," Weinschenk said to try and explain the trash. "I am very glad that there's nothing (contaminated) out there."
With the issue cleared up, park officials are finally free to move ahead with planting trees and grass and installing picnic tables on the property.
"We can now do what we want with that property," Weinschenk said.
Weinschenk said he hopes the property will be completed in the spring.