MOUNT VERNON — At Monday's city council meeting, council members rather enthusiastically approved donating 63 acres on Thayer Road to the Knox County Board of Commissioners. The parcel is adjacent to the county's compost facility.
“It used to be the city dump,” Commissioner Teresa Bemiller told Knox Pages last week. “All of the paperwork back to the beginning has been in the commissioners' name. We don't know how it all worked back then.”
The county has maintained the land under a 30-year lease. The lease expires Dec. 31.
“We felt that since the county taxpayers are leasing this and maintaining it, the land should belong to the county taxpayers,” said County Administrator Jason Booth.
“There will be at least 10 to 15 years more of maintaining it,” Bemiller said.
“We have multiple ground wells out there. A few have been closed over the years, so we have not had to maintain those,” Booth said. “But there have been more that have opened, with seepage into the surrounding soil. There have not been a lot of those through the years, but there has been some. So our consultants have said it will be some years before we can get out of testing.”
The Environmental Protection Agency tests soil samples twice a year. Other miscellaneous maintenance expenses include fixing fans and fixing or repairing well caps.
Booth said the cost of sampling and maintenance was $106,000 in 2020 and $94,000 in 2019. For 2021, the county budgeted $115,000.
“The cost could go down incrementally over the years as the wells are closed,” Booth said. “But they could also add wells.”
On Monday, Mount Vernon Safety-service Director Richard Dzik referred to the parcel as the former city-county landfill. City Auditor Terry Scott said that as far back as the late 1950s the land was a landfill, but he is not sure whether the city ever had any jurisdiction in operating it.
“I don't think the city wants to take on this responsibility,” he told council, adding that he sees no use for the land from the city's perspective, nor does he feel the city wants to entertain any liability for it.
Council agreed. Waiving the third reading, council approved the resolution as an emergency.