JOHNSBURG — Efforts to clean up a former car dealership and repair garage on Route 8 have not gone as smoothly as Warren County officials hoped.
Two underground fuel tanks were removed last month, and it was determined the tanks had not leaked or contaminated nearby soil.
But contractors brought in by the state Department of Environmental Conservation found an extensive area of contaminated soil next to the garage on the property, which has required a significant excavation to remove the soil.
Lexie Delurey, Warren County’s director of real property and tax services, said the cleanup has muddled hopes the property would be ready for sale and possible reuse anytime soon.
County leaders had hoped the tank removal would result in a clean bill of health for the property, which the county could foreclose on and then sell at auction.
Its owner, Edna Mosher, owes more than $100,000 in property taxes, but the county has not taken possession of the property because of concerns about environmental problems stemming from its decades of use as a Plymouth dealership and a garage.
The future of the 0.77-acre property, which housed Johnsburg Garage until it closed in the 1990s, remains uncertain as contractors continue to work there to remove soil, Delurey said.
“It’s not going as great as the tank removal,” she said of the cleanup.
Two environmental surveys in recent years found evidence of one area of contamination.
While the excavation was more extensive than was initially believed necessary, Delurey said it won’t cost the county any more than was budgeted.
The county worked out an agreement with the DEC that limits the county’s financial liability for the cleanup to $15,000, money that comes from a fund set aside from proceeds of prior tax auctions.
She said a timetable for a decision on when the property will be considered cleaned up was unclear.
“We’re hoping, but we don’t know what’s under the building itself yet,” she said.