Gary Airport: Storage of contaminated material is temporary
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent September 24, 2012 5:20PM
Updated: October 26, 2012 2:08PM
GARY — A sliver of land currently being used to store some 40,000 square yards of contaminated waste won’t be a permanent fixture at the Gary/Chicago International Airport, administrators say, but at least one tenant isn’t convinced.
Paul Karas, consultant for the Gary Jet Center, reminded the Airport Authority at its Monday meeting that a 21-acre parcel of land surrounding the former NIPSCO substation was designated for economic development in the airport’s master plan. A less than 1-acre portion, however, is currently housing contaminated material dredged during expansion work, said project manager Scott Wheeler.
The 21-acre portion is part of the Zaleski Trust and doesn’t belong to the airport yet, Wheeler said.
“This parcel runs between the tracks and the road, and we’re saving $4 million in cost overruns by using it,” he said. “The land will still be developable.”
Karas said that at a meeting between tenants and airport representatives two weeks ago, they were told the savings were closer to $3 million, but regardless, putting the waste there is a short-term savings at a long-term cost.
“My concern is that once it’s put there, it’s going to stay there like so many other dump sites,” Karas said. “And if they’re going to remove it later, how’s the airport going to pay for it? The (Federal Aviation Administration) isn’t going to pay for it.”
“They have the money now, so it should’ve been removed now.”
Interim Airport Administrator Steve Landry said the airport has been working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to contain the waste and said it won’t become a permanent fixture on the site. It’s being used because there is no planned development for that parcel.
Karas also asked the board when it plans on using a $1 million Federal Transit Administration grant the airport received in 2006 to improve connectivity between the airport and the South Shore Rail line. Landry said the airport will reinitiate conversation with the South Shore Rail Road soon, as there are restrictions to the grant that will require the two entities working together to come up with a plan.
In expansion news, Wheeler told the board that the metalwork for the abuttments over the Norfolk-Southern line has been delivered and will be installed over the next five weeks, while the steel overpass bridge will be delivered shortly and is on target to be installed and functional in July 2013. The board voted unanimously to accept contract modifications that produced net decreases of $134,163 and granted Wheeler permission to negotiate a contract not to exceed $22,000 with third-party ground engineering consultants to test the dynamic compaction for Canadian National Railroad.
In other business, consultant John Clark of Jclark Aviation told the board he is in early talks with a second fixed-based operator for the airport, whose name wasn’t released because talks are preliminary.
Marketing liaison James Ward III told the board 750 people have registered for Allegiant Air’s Quest for Vacation promotion to be held 10 a.m.-noon Saturday at Marquette Park. And, Ward reported, traffic to the airport’s website has doubled in three months, he said.