make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

Potentially contaminated sites could still be good for ballpark construction

READ MORE: Contaminated potential ballpark sites could be good for business

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- According to experts, there are currently 80 to 90 potentially contaminated properties in the Wilmington area, also known as brownfield sites. The City of Wilmington held a public informational meeting Tuesday night on its Brownfields Assessment Project. Two of the properties are being considered by the city to build a minor league ballpark on the land.

City Councilman Kevin O'Grady says he feels pretty comfortable that the considered ballpark sites will work out, even with the environmental issues.

According to the city's website, brownfield sites include, but are not limited to sites contaminated by controlled hazardous substances and sites contaminated by petroleum or a petroleum product. For more than a century, much of the area was used for shipping. Much of what was stored there ended up leaking into the ground.

The old Almont property, which is now owned by Chuck Schoninger and located along the downtown riverfront, has been defined as a brownfield site since 2008 and is being considered by the city to build a minor league ballpark on the land. Council approved an agreement between Mandalay Baseball and the Atlanta Braves to build the stadium last week. According to Sam Watson, NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Brownfields Manager for the Wilmington region, the land has been in the process of redevelopment for a while and all contaminants have been identified.

“There’s been soil testing, ground water testing, sediment testing in the water, surface water testing,” Watson explains.

He says the property is completely safe to build a baseball stadium.

“Because it's a brownfield site, it's a beneficial site to choose,” Watson says. “It’s already pre approved for a ballpark.”

As far as cost goes, Watson says because it is a brownfield site, the city would have liability protection for cleanup. Councilman O’Grady says clean up costs are already built into the $6 million allotted for acquiring the land to build the ballpark, but also admits there are no certainties that it will be enough to cover all costs.

WWAY also reached out to Councilwoman Laura Padgett for comment. Padgett was the only council member to vote against approving the ballpark agreement. She did not return our call.

Last year the city received $400,000 from an EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant, $200,000 for Hazardous substance sites assessment and $200,000 for petroleum contaminated sites.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.



Riverfront Holdings, LLC. They're listed for Harnett St


Carol, how about Paragon Financial Investors? I see them listed for that address, as well.


“There’s been soil testing, ground water testing, sediment testing in the water, surface water testing,” Watson explains."

If the above statement is in fact true, then why can't the costs be computed? Why hasn't the public been told what kind(s)of pollution and how much. Why hasn't the current owner been required to clean up the property?

This is just one more item added to the mess that has become this "Stadium Deal." According to the contract Mandalay has with the city, the city is responsible for any additional costs associated with the property. If the purchase/cleanup/preparation costs exceed 6 million, then the city pays. Where is this money going to come from? This is the same city government that could not afford a fire truck a short while ago. This is also the same city that currently pays its employees an average of 10% less than other cities in this area. Isn't it time for the city to get their priorities in order?

Asking the tax payers to fund baseball parks for billionaires, and to clean up properties for developers should never be what governments ask of their tax payers......

When in Doubt, Make Stuff Up

"Councilman O’Grady says clean up costs are already built into the $6 million allotted for acquiring the land to build the ballpark, but also admits there are no certainties that it will be enough to cover all costs."

Does anyone remember the show "Fantasy Island"? Councilman O'Grady has taken up permanent residence there. He's saying they're going to buy the land for less than $6 million?

Contamination issues aside, if that property has to comply with standard building requirements for flood plains, they're going to have to haul in many, many tons of fill dirt. I had to do it on a higher piece of property, that was only 1/4 acre. It cost me over $10k, and that was 12 years ago. There is no way they can do the same on an area that large, and that low, for less than $400k.

The City, as stated in the agreement, is responsible for coming up with any money above the $6 million allocated for land. The City is responsible for all infrastructure, remediation, site work, etc, etc. I think this thing would be over budget before they had their ground breaking ceremony.


Let's see

the clean up costs are built into the $6 million purchase price.

BUT, Mr. Watson "...admits there are no certainties that it will be enough to cover all costs.

That sure is encouraging. And certainly misleading.

That's even worse than the local Mercedes Benz dealership advertising all vehicles today are $1. And then when you arrive, you find out there are charges for doors, tires, engines, and transmissions.

At the dealership you can walk away. With this city council led crew, the City Property tax payers can not walk away if the referendum somehow passes.

We built the cost of remediation in; but it may not be sufficient.

There's a better way.

Vote NO on the referendum.

And then allow the Ripken Group to continue its discussion with the County and build across the river.

What's the problem with this? Mandalanta can still operate a minor league franchise in the greater Wilmington market.

Perhaps one day the real reason will come out as to why Dukie & MrT are so insistent on cramming that over priced, contaminated river front acreage down the City's property tax payers throats.

Ah well, Dante's inferno awaits some.

Hey Tom

You should never criticize the negotiating prowess of our elected officials for they are the "Nabobs of negotiating", the kings of critical thinking"........
I posted this on another blog regarding the "rent" payment. It bears repeating here as well:

The New Deal calls for $500,000 per year but MINUS office space rent. Here’s a thought for you. The State Properties division expects to pay state lease rental rates on 300 sq/ft per employee at any leased office. This takes into account the actual office space, conference room etc.
The state is VERY CHEAP on this allowance in private industry it may be more.
Watch this:
25 employees using 300sq/ft each = 7500 sq/ft of leased space.
7500 X $15 sq/t = $112,000 per yer

$500,000 – $112,000 = $388,000 actual lease payments.

Now check this out:
Please try to find a rate that comes anywhere NEAR the $15 per sq/ft rate in this deal compared to commercial RE rental rates in Wilmington.
There are some premium spaces that are $70 to $100 per sq/ft.
Now here’s a thought. Why include office space at all? Sure sell tickets at a ticket counter turnstile.
But why not have Shoninger build a small office facility across the street from the stadium to house the offices? They would pay lease payments for that space in a separate deal – like the separate “public park”?
That office space deal is one give away if you ask me

I'm stunned at how cheap the rent is for offices.
And Saffo is a real estate guy?


Why Not

convert a portion of the White Elephant, CC, to office space and ticket office? Exclude the rent from the basis on which the management company's fee is based.

At least puts a portion of the white elephant to use.

If that works, convert another portion to a Wilmington Sports Museum.

Than install a Nathan's Hot Dog Stand. That would be a draw for Mr. Barfield when he comes down town. Once it opens, allow the City Negotiators to strike a deal for the National Hot Dog Eating contest. Plenty of room on the lawn facing the river.

Next convert another portion of the white elephant to the NC Barbecue Museum. Have the city's team of crack deal negotiators strike a deal with the Food Channel to televise the annual NC Barbecue Festival.

Let's keep thinking outside the box.

My suggestion of turning the

My suggestion of turning the Convention Center into a "Beagle Farm" still stands. At least the hounds would be under shelter.
Instead of us all posting comparison comments (myself included), those of us Against this ballpark just post...."VOTE NO!!!"...and those in favor of it post "Vote No!!!" as well :-)


But 25 full time Mandalay employees working at the CC would constitute 1 event per day, 5 days per week times 52 weeks per year or 260 events according to the CC managers!
Problem(s) solved !!!!!!!
If they broke that group into 2 separate rooms she could say it's 520 events !!!!
You're a genius !!!!
Ah well....



I never criticize the negotiating power of folks who city slickered their way into an elected position.

On the other hand, I do ask reasonable questions, which one would hope were asked by the elected officials before they signed off on the deal.

One thing of note.

Dukie, MrT and the other proponents have been awful quiet here of late.

Do you think they got the message? Their words consistently come back to haunt them.

Or perhaps they have just hunkered down until the next round of entitlements come out.

One More Time

It's on the Ballot stupid. Our goal has been met. Talk time is over. Time now to vote. Me and Duke may have both reached the same conclusion.
There is about eight of you on this sight that guess what, Your not in favor of Baseball or much of anything else. Now that the Presidential race in NC has swung toward Obama, you guys ought to join the Romney team since losing is one of your greatest assets. My attention has shifted to finding positive people who care about the future Of Wilmington. There are more of us out here than you would ever know.


"It's on the Ballot stupid. Our goal has been met. Talk time is over. Time now to vote. Me and Duke may have both reached the same conclusion."

Mr. T, you sir are a liar. In case you didn't read it the first time, I'll say it again, you are a liar. It was never your intent to have this on the ballot. Duke aka Chuck Kuebler tried on several occasions to Convince the County Commissioners to join with the city to finance this project. Everything you have ever posted has been proven false. Your goal has been met? I don't think Mandalay is still going to hire you when you get clobbered in November. If talk time for you is over...... SHUT UP! Your lies have only been exceeded by your arrogance. I do not think/hope that are very many others like you....people that lie instead of telling the truth, people that try to use arrogance instead of education. It is time for you to crawl back into the hole from where you came, and please do it silently.....

Again I say. . . . .


One more time Terry

what's your personal stake in this?

Are you hoping to get another job in banking if you help the current mortgage holder unload this toxic asset? And Toxic is not a referral to the site contamination issues.

You've enlisted everyone but J Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Hoffa, and Pee Wee Herman in your attempts to cram this over priced, river front acreage down the throats of the city at the expense of the city property tax payers.

What next? Throw out a race card? That's about the only one you have not played. I say that as you have made it very evident the truth will never issue from you onto a post.

I have said from the very beginning, you and Dukie are doing far more damage to the hopes the proponents have of the city passing the referendum. Keep up the good work.

You also clearly prove Forrest's statement that "stupid is as stupid does"

Keep on posting.

What's next?

throw out the race card?

You can not give straight answers, so throw out personal insults.

It's on the ballot. But oh contraire, there is a need for more talk.

Very simple solution; disclose all of the facts including the full costs to remediate the property. Even the City Council admits th amount included within the $6 million may not be sufficient.

So come on Terry, talk straight. What's the true cost to remediate?

So far, about the only ones you have not pulled into your debate are J Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Hoffa, and Pee Wee Herman.

As to being stupid. That's a double edged sword.

Even Forrest said "stupid is as stupid does"

The stupid will be those who allow your pathetic, mindless personal insults to sway them from pursuit of the truth.

And, the truth will come out.

The stupid will be those who vote, blindly, for the referendum without full disclosure of the costs to remediate the property.

Sorry Terry, but getting this toxic asset sold and off the books of some bank will not get you back into the banking industry.

T-ball ......Just gotta love it when you post something

You have become the poster boy for that expression "Hoist with his own petard" (Definition: to be harmed or disadvantaged by an action of one's own which was meant to harm someone else)

"There are more of us out here than you would ever know":
Are you referring to how many T's "is" posting ... or ... Are you referring to the fact that outside of a few insiders, no one seems to know anyone else who's actually in favor of a TAXPAYER FUNDED stadium ?

Probably not a good time to ask about that PPP poll again, huh?

Your Goal Met??

Ah, a *different* Mr.T. Cute, but much as I loathe the original, I can credit him with the ability to spell and use punctuation. Clearly, you are not he.
Whatever little troll you may be, your referendum is going to get blown out of the water, sorry. That 80% against figure that keeps repeating itself in every survey done will be reflected in the voting results. I laugh at your "goal being met", considering how hard the pro side worked to keep this OFF the ballot. Fail.
I'm not sure why you try to lump all anti-stadium folks together politically. I voted for Obama the first time around, this time I'm voting for Gary Johnson, as I feel Obama hasn't kept to his promises on too many issues. I see Romney as a buffoon who reminds me too much of our own Billy Saffo. If I had to guess, I would say Harper Peterson - who is strongly against the stadium deal - will be voting for Obama. The anti-stadium folks are about as politically diverse as it gets, but it's good that you show your ignorance of them whenever you post.
The "positive people who care about Wilmington" are right here. We set aside our own selfish wants, unlike the stadium fans, who want their toy and don't care what it costs everyone else.
Now, run along and find the REAL MrT, so he can tell us again how "It's not about baseball".

Here's a thought for all 8 of us

In spite of thousands of Kueblers posts to the contrary I have to wonder about some things.

In that story we see our Mayor saying he can’t support $40M.
7% later – he’s in full support of $37M.
So did waiting make the deal sweeter or more SOUR?
In that NSS study ch 8 pg 103 we see the deal is for $400,000 per year with cost of living increases every year.
Now we have a deal of lease with NO cost of living increase
So did waiting make the deal sweeter or more SOUR?
Mandalay tossed the city “a bone” by saying we’ll share naming rights over $325,000.
From NSS Ch 8 pg 99:
”it is estimated that a new ballpark could generate approximately $270,000 in net naming rights revenue, increasing three percent per year.”
So did waiting make the deal sweeter or more SOUR?

Originally Chuck Kuebler said there would be a public park included in the deal.
The latest deal says the park would be developed separately from the stadium and at city expense.
So did waiting make the deal sweeter or more SOUR?
So, all you supporters – how can you claim the deal got sweeter with every delay?
Please show me through news articles and links how the current deal is sweeter than the original deal?

And you folks wonder why we are so skeptical?
Even YOU GUYS got duped.
The PPP poll IMPLIED that a public park WOULD be part of this deal several of the questions dealt with that very subject.
Now it's separate?
How disingenuous can the pro side get?
How does it feel to get "used"? To be painted as not knowing what in the heck you're talking about? How do you feel when you read the MOU and realize it trashes the NSS report and just about every darned post you guys have made claiming "OH it will include a park", or "It will cost the city MUCH less than $31M" or "The stadium will generate revenues for the city".
If I were on the pro side I'd be pretty darned mad right about now.
In the space of 5 short months we went from "It will cost the taxpayers nothing" to costing us, at a minimum, $58M?
What kind of supporters are you?


Thank goodness

Even though there's no specifics in the news article I feel much better.
I still feel that the NSS study regarding the down town did point out the 2 most troubling aspects of the land.
One its in a flood zone
Two water table is a concern
The question becomes is this a land acquisition thing or a construction problem? I suspect the city is ONLY responsible for making the land environmentally acceptable.

Now, on the other hand how does the flood plain and water table affect construction costs? PPD spent over $1.5M on soil "Prep"
The city - who will want to expand the Riverwalk will now have to concern itself with expenditures outside the ball park deal to include bulkheads at the river facing then building the walk itself.
Additionally they now have to pay for the public park that is attached to the stadium property
So that $37M is now a MINIMUM figure.

O'Grady said the remediation costs are "built in" to the $6M allocated for the land.
Shoninger has said $6M is his line in the sand for the asking price.

Can anyone say DUH?
I'm confused



you're likely less confused than the ball park proponents who are unable to answer direct questions with direct answers.

I wonder now when the Baseball Officials, who oversee baseball operations, will step in and say enough. You proponents and City Council have made this a mockery.

And they have.

It's past time for a professional organization like Ripken Group to step onto the playing field and not have their efforts fettered by that ridiculous exclusive deal with Mandalanta.

I'm still not certain what Dukie's hype was on all of this; what was in the deal for him? As to MrT, he likely could not tell you.

Nope can't happen

Ripken will not step in nor will MiLB.

I would suggest we wait.
There's a lot of talk out there that MLB (The majors) will expand by two teams possibly as early as next year. THE American League has 14 clubs and the National league 16 clubs and MLB wants to even this out.
Who's on the list to get a MLB team? How about Raleigh/Charlotte !! Those teams will need minor league ball clubs at ALL levels of play.
This would make Wilmington a very big PRIME city for a team. 110 miles from the parent club? I could see someone thinking AA level ball here.

But waiting is not on the pro sides horizon because they think like Wren does - "If it doesn't happen now it won't likely ever happen."

Arrogant but stupid
We've had 3 inquiries or attempts since 1993? I see that as once very 6 years or so.



Does Saffo and Company not understand there is an election to go through before this ballpark is a sure thing??? I think they are getting their carts WAY before their horses. I see some Obama arrogance in this.

doesn't care

saffo has broken many promises yet still gets elected. He is at the point where he wants to see how far he can push and how much he can gain before we wake up and vote him out.

Obama's name always seems to

Obama's name always seems to come up in anything negative, these days. He has absolutely nothing to do with this fiasco. As for building a ballpark on contaminated soil, I suppose rules, regulations and laws do not apply to the wealthy.


Well, guest, I see some Mittens Romney corporate welfare here, but either way, we wind up with the same result. They want to take money away from those of us who have to work hard just to cover our own necessary expenses, and give it to someone who doesn't need it, for something speculative and unnecessary.