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Sunday, September 19, 2021

A new study may be done at the area around the Cabot/Koppers Superfund site that is different from previous studies that measured toxic contamination.

The Gainesville City Commission decided Thursday to take a step toward hiring a consultant who will measure the amount of deterioration in the neighborhoods around the toxic site.

The study could cost the city up to $25,000, according to city officials.

The area is bordered by Northeast Second Street and Northwest 39th Avenue. The area extends west of Northwest 13th Street and a few miles south of Northwest 23rd Avenue.

The “blight study” would determine if the low-income area around the site could be dubbed a new Community Redevelopment Agency area, making it the city’s fifth district managed by the city agency.

When a particular part of the city is declared a Community Redevelopment Agency area, it is revitalized through public money in order to stimulate economic growth and attract more residents to the dilapidated area.

In a 6-to-1 vote, with Commissioner Todd Chase dissenting, the commission directed staff to develop a request to hire a consultant.

Though most of the commissioners thought the study was a good idea, Chase said he did not support it because cleanup is scheduled to begin within the next year as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to decontaminate the site.

“I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with doing a blight study until we know what is happening in this area,” Chase said. “Because once you get the ball rolling, it’s hard to peel it back.”

Commissioner Susan Bottcher disagreed.

Because the study will only show if the area qualifies as an official Community Redevelopment Agency area, Bottcher said there is no harm in checking out the possibility.

Contact Adrianna Paidas at apaidas@alligator.org.

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