Vienna still eyeing Johns Manville property

VIENNA – Vienna City Council agreed Thursday to proceed with talks to purchase the former Johns Manville Plant.

Council took the action after a 45-minute executive session to discuss the findings of an environmental study at the former industrial site.

Plans are to turn the property into a recreation area, Mayor Randy Rapp said.

The environmental survey was commissioned in November by the city and conducted by Triad Engineering.

Matthew Wright, engineer with Triad Engineering, was in the executive session and had no comment afterward.

The survey consisted of core and water sampling and monitoring wells on the Johns Manville property, concentrating on a 15-acre plot described as “on the river side of River Road,” Rapp said.

The environmental report “is one piece of the puzzle,” Rapp said. “If they would have told us something we couldn’t live with, then it would have had a direct bearing on the direction that we are considering going on the property.”

Council passed a motion to continue talks toward a purchase.

When asked what could be in an environmental survey that would cause the council to enter executive session, Rapp said “We (the city of Vienna) paid a lot of money to have that study done, and basically, it’s a fact that if someone else was interested in that piece of property, they can pay to have their own study done.”

City Attorney Russell Skogstad said the environmental study was akin to having a home inspection performed before purchasing a house.

Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing the mayor “to take all steps as are reasonably necessary to begin the process of purchasing” the Johns Manville property.

The purchase of the property will still have to be approved by city council, at which time the results of the environmental report will be disclosed during a town hall meeting, Rapp said.

“There are a lot of rumors about this property,” Rapp said. “We think that you (the public) deserve to know about what we know about this site,” he said.

No dates have been set for the town hall meetings when the environmental report will be made public in, Rapp said.

The only plans city officials divulged Thursday night were the 15 acres near River Road would “make a nice public recreation area” and the remaining property could be used “to connect 28th Street to River Road,” Rapp said.

The Johns Manville site operated for 98 years before it closed in 2006. The 33-acre property is owned by Bob Childers, a Huntington developer and owner of Structure Resources, Inc. and Childers Properties.