By Sally Gillie, Monitor
The City of Monroe should soon have a much better idea of what’s buried in the former city dump on a 12-acre property adjacent to the Galaxy Theatre in North Kelsey.
With an interested buyer of the commercial property in the wings, the city council voted unanimously this week to contract with an engineering firm to conduct the first three phases of a landfill investigation to identify the parameters of the landfill and what type of materials are buried there. The property, owned by the city, was used as a dump for many years before being closed in the mid 1970s.
The landfill area is estimated to be about two acres in size. It is now considered an inactive landfill, and has been subject to quarterly inspections by the Snohomish Health District. Those reports have always come back excellent, according to Monroe City Administrator Gene Brazel.
At the Feb. 18 council meeting, Brazel did not name the buyer who is interested in the property, saying only that it is a commercial developer who is interested in putting in new businesses that complement the nearby Galaxy Theatre. There has been interest in the site in the past from developers, including the owners of the Galaxy Theatre, according to Jeff Sax, Monroe Economic Development Manager. The property, which has been zoned general commercial since 2004, is estimated to be worth around $3 million once it becomes a usable lot.
The hope is that, if the material buried there can be safely recycled and cleaned up, that buyer will go ahead with a purchase deal with the city and take over the final phases of the project, which will involve cleaning up the landfill and leveling out the property. The area has gravel that could be taken out and sold.
The city has selected The Riley Group, Inc. from its list of certified engineers to take on the job. The firm has outlined the first three phases of its approach for the investigation. Phase one is a review of all existing files, maps, aerial photos and reports of the landfill to get a history of the site. This will include a study of city documents that date back to when the area was used as a dumping ground, as well as a public records review from other entities such as Snohomish County Public Works and the Washington State Department of Ecology. This phase will also determine the necessary permits that may be required from the county and the DOE.
A second phase will be to conduct a geophysical survey of the landfill, using techniques such as ground penetrating radar, which runs electricity between metal rods that are driven into the site, to try and define the location of buried materials. Other techniques, such as induced polarization imaging and electronic resistivity topography, will add to the picture.
“This can give you a 3-D picture of what’s in there, creating a map,” said Brad Feilberg, Monroe’s Public Works Director. Engineers will set an array of shallow electrode rods, by hand, at approximately five-foot intervals to help delineate the perimeter of the landfill.
By comparing the results of these different imaging methods, engineers can try to delineate the area more accurately, and to estimate the approximate thickness of both the material and the soil cover above it.
In phase three, The Riley Group will prepare a draft work plan based on their findings, drawing conclusions that may include a proposal for additional work that may be needed.
The city council has authorized $50,000, already allocated for this purpose in the city’s 2013 budget, to fund the initial three phases of the investigation.
A fourth phase, which would require approval from the city council, would move into potholing, or drilling, to confirm the exact location of materials in the landfill; and if the landfill depth is found to be greater than 15 feet, additional excavation would be required. The next phase would also include taking soil samples and comparison of the soil from areas inside and outside the landfill area.
Preliminary plat approval of a new subdivision to build 146 homes on 35 acres near Chain Lake Road in Monroe could happen as early as next week. RAD Development has proposed creating a residential development by subdividing eight existing lots located at 13611 197th Ave. S.E., which is west of Chain Lake Road and approximately one mile north of U.S. 2.
A SEPA appeal of the proposed Eaglemont residential development went before a city hearing examiner last month and was overturned in a decision handed down Feb. 7, in which the examiner ruled in favor of granting the plat approval.
The council will meet in a closed record session before its regular open session on Tuesday, Feb. 26, to review the city examiner’s decision and decide whether or not to grant the plat approval and allow the proposal to move forward.