SHERIDAN — The long-abandoned Carnation building is one of the first things you see when driving into the village of Sheridan on M-66.
According to Sheridan Village Manager Doug Lane, this is not a good thing.
After sitting vacant for more than two decades, the building is literally falling down in many places. The roof leaks, the floors are rotted out and in one place, there are actually trees growing up through the rotted floorboards. To exacerbate the problem, the property is very likely contaminated with chemicals used when it still held an operating business. At the very least, the building very likely contains asbestos in need of safe removal.
The Sheridan Village Council recently voted to purchase the building at a cost of $6,617.14, with the intention of eliciting grant funds to determine the amount and type of pollution at the site and eventually demolish the building and perform cleanup operations.
In January, the village council voted to go after a $400,000 Brownfield Authority Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to accomplish this task. That money has now been awarded and the environmental assessment of the property is about to get under way.
“We have the assessment scheduled,” Lane said. “Once we find any contaminants and things there, they will have all the data they need to go ahead and write a grant for the demolition and cleanup. If it turns out there’s contaminated water, soil or even lead paint, when they put in for a grant for the demolition, all those things will be covered.”
Franz Mogdis, executive director of the Montcalm Alliance and administrator of the Brownfield Authority, was instrumental in obtaining the $400,000 grant.
“The grant allows us to do the baseline assessment of the property in terms of pollution,” Mogdis said. “It allows us to establish what exists and what the needs are.”
Two other properties also will be assessed in the grant — an abandoned gas station on M-46 in Amble (Winfield Township) and the former pickle docks on the south side of Tamarack Lake in Lakeview. Both properties, like the Carnation building, are suspected of containing environmental contaminants.
Mogdis said the first phase of the operation, the assessment, should be completed by the end of August or mid-September at the latest. If everything goes as planned, cleanup and demolition of the Carnation building could get under way as early as spring or early summer of next year.
“The assessment component of this is all covered by the grant,” Mogdis explained. “There is no cost whatever to the village of Sheridan. What this does is protect the village and establish exactly what problems exist at the site. The new owner (in this case, the village) will no longer be liable for past issues there.”
The Carnation building was built in 1930 and ceased operations in 1975. For most of the years since then, it has sat vacant. At present, the village has no plans to develop the property following the cleanup and demolition, although Mogdis said that may be a possibility somewhere down the road.