Friday, August 17, 2018

Soil Contamination and Monitoring Wells Point to History of UGM Site

It was interesting today to see the front page item on soil contamination at the current UGM Shelter site downtown at Center and Commercial.

McKinney car lot, Center & Commercial, 1961
on the north side of Center Street (Rite-Aid lot)
(Salem Library Historic Photos, and similar here)
This probably shouldn't be surprising. The area was a center of car dealerships and service at one time. This McKinney lot is just to the north kitty-corner across Center Street.

Otto J. Wilson garage, May 1952.  Image courtesy of John Wilson
You may recall the story of Otto J. Wilson. His garage and warehouse is now the site of Santiam Bikes just across Commercial Street.

The UGM site itself had different garage and gas station when the 1926 Sanborn Fire Map was compiled. (I have never seen any photos of it, unfortunately.)

Gas Station and garage on NE Corner
1926 Sanborn Fire Map
The alley divides the commercial district from a mixed residential one. Among the houses was a auto repairing business and an undertaker. The block north had houses and a junk shop. Note the boarding house on the UGM site, also.

Map detail from above
The monitoring wells follow the footprint of the gas station exactly.

Monitoring Well sites from DEQ report - same location
Maybe we'll come back to this area in more detail, as it has had several layers of redevelopment. Parts of the UGM and Saffron Supply buildings are likely old, and under Runaway Arts and Crafts building is part of the old State Insurance Building. This is a border area between "main street" downtown, industry on the waterfront, and residential districts. As such it has multiple layers and a more complicated history.

State Insurance Building on SE Corner
Now truncated, with top floors whacked off
Parts of this are still under Runaway Arts & Crafts
(University of Oregon)
As with grocery stores, the movement of car dealers from downtown outward and finally to the edges tells us something about Salem's history.

The contamination should also give us pause on new gas stations. We ask for last month's rent and a security deposit when you want to rent a home, so why don't we ask for an environmental remediation deposit in an escrow account or something when dirty industry goes in? Even more, why don't we have a moratorium on new gas stations? Why do we even allow new ones at all? We do not adequately price future clean-up costs into the current costs of doing business, instead externalizing those costs and handing them to future generations. Whether the externality is soil contamination or greenhouse gases, somebody else gets to pay.

The new Fred Meyer gas station off Madrona at Commercial
Right on top of a culverted Clark Creek
Spring 2018

Addendum, August 18th

Here's a funny relation between two sites! This is an ad "We are moving" from May 12th, 1962, announcing McKinney's move from 430 Commercial Street NE, the TJ Maxx/RiteAid parking lot, to 695 Liberty Street NE, just south of the new Police Station site. So the early 1960s may be when the "O'Brien" parcels were first used as car lots and were the first wave of moves from the city center.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added 1962 clip on McKinney's move from 430 Commercial St NE.