STERLING – The City Council got its first look at a proposed donation agreement that could result in the city assuming ownership of the National Manufacturing site still owned by Stanley Black & Decker.
In the proposal, which was presented to the council by the city's lawyer Greg Hummel, with Bryan Cave LLP, Stanley-National states it would be responsible for cleaning up underground contaminants of any building that's demolished.
Hummel recommended that the City Council approve the proposed agreement at its next meeting, which is Nov. 4. The document has already been signed by Stanley-National, he added.
There are 10 buildings listed in the proposal. The city has indicated interest in demolishing six of them. If the document remains unchanged and the city decides to demolish one of the other four, it will be responsible for cleaning up any underground contaminants.
Most of the buildings have about 3 feet of concrete in their base, which is enough of a barrier to make cleaning up the soil unnecessary if the buildings are left standing, Hummel said.
However, the city would be responsible for above-ground contaminants – like asbestos or lead paint – during the renovation of the buildings, Hummel said.
The donation agreement includes land and buildings west of First Avenue and north and south of Wallace Street. Sterling included the land in an adaptive reuse study that recommended a microbrewery, apartments or a restaurant among potential development options.
If the proposal is signed by Sterling Nov. 4, it could take approximately 2 years for the city to gain control of the property, Hummel said, adding that more remediation planning remains between Stanley-National and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
"[Stanley-National] is a tough outfit to deal with," Hummel said. "And they have agreed to what I think are pretty commercially reasonable terms. The other thing, I suppose, to think about is, you [would] control ... 35 acres, including the Lawrence [Building]. You would control your whole riverfront."
But despite Hummel's recommendation, there wasn't unanimous support to accept the agreement from the City Council.
Ward 3 Alderman Lou Sotelo said it was a difficult decision, weighing the cost to the community to have that property along the riverfront vacant.
The proposal is scheduled to be on the City Council agenda for the Nov. 4 meeting, but Mayor Skip Lee said that could change if members of the council have questions they needed answered. The item could even be pushed back during the Nov. 4 meeting, if the City Council needs more time, he added.
Ward 2 Alderman Barry Cox said the city would do its due diligence with the proposal before voting to approve it.
"If we're not comfortable with it, we're going to take our time," he said. "And if it's December when we do it, that's when we do it. But I think every one of us wants to be comfortable with what we're doing here. And quite honestly, I sort of look at it like we're doing Stanley somewhat of a favor."
A portion of the land included in the Stanley-National donation pact was included in the grant the city received from the Illinois EPA Sept. 21, when Gov. Pat Quinn awarded the city a $1.3 million Green Infrastructure Grant and a $900,000 Mud to Parks grant to help add an environmental barrier for the riverfront development.
The City Council will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 28 to accept the $900,000 grant.
The two grants will go toward adding wetland and pond complex to the riverfront area to improve water quality, 9 acres of natural landscape restoration and 3,000 square feet of publicly accessible green roofs, among other elements.
The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Coliseum, 212 Third Ave., to accept a $900,000 grant from Gov. Pat Quinn.
The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Coliseum.
Go to www.sterling-il.gov or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.