CASHMERE — The Chelan Douglas County Regional Port Authority is trying to get rid of more of the Cashmere Mill District.
To do that, it needs to check with the state Department of Ecology before it can sell two parcels between Sunset Highway and Mill Road.
Additionally, a Leavenworth-based wood cabinetry company recently proposed purchasing a 1.49-acre parcel north of Sunset Highway, according to port documents, with a small portion being sold to the city of Cashmere for stormwater drainage.
The Cashmere Mill District was a lumber mill from the 1940s to the late 1970s for a variety of commercial and light industrial uses, according to a report by the state Department of Ecology. A number of contaminants have been identified on the site, including mill operation wood waste: wood, silt, sand, gravel, cobble and boulders not commercially valuable; soil contaminated with petroleum and mercury; and arsenic in the groundwater.
The port has spent around $4.3 million out-of-pocket on cleanups and projects since acquiring the 32.5-acre site in 2008 for $1.5 million. Twenty-one acres were developable. The other 11.5 acres or so is wetland area.
Now, the port is trying to get a No Further Action letter from the state Department of Ecology for the four parcels between the highway and Mill Road. An NFA letter “means that no contamination remains above the applicable cleanup levels outlined in the state’s law, the Model Toxics Control Act,” according to Ecology’s website.
Two of those four parcels have port buildings and are 1.22 acres and 1.3 acres. The port won’t sell those, said Jim Kuntz, port CEO. They are generating revenue and helping businesses. The other two are 2.74 acres and .76 acres and likely will be sold.
A roughly $417,700 offer was made by Cashmere Business Park LLC (CBP) earlier this year on the 2.74-acre plot, which may loop in the .76 acres. Kuntz said the port is considering that deal, but needs the letter first.
“One theory many, many moons ago was that we were always going to maintain the middle piece(s) so an NFA was irrelevant. The port was going to own it and it was not an issue,” he said.
But if the port ever wants to sell, that letter is needed. So the port will ask Ecology what’s required to get a letter and what Ecology’s disposition is on the site.
“If there’s a whole bunch of additional testing and monitoring and all of that, then we probably won’t (get a letter), but all we can do is ask, right?,” Kuntz said.
“The first thing that comes to mind is I’m a little nervous about not letting sleeping dogs lie,” said JC Baldwin, port commissioner. “It just seemed like every time we touched that property before now it cost us more money. Any time we did any exploration it cost more money. So I’m hoping for the best.”
Sunset Highway is being redeveloped from the mill site to the West Cashmere Bridge, about half a mile northwest of the site, Kuntz said. Cashmere Mayor Jim Fletcher asked the port if it could part with .34 acres of the 1.49-acre plot to make a stormwater pond. The remainder of the parcel would go to an unnamed retail store, Kuntz said.
However, the 1.49-acre parcel must first have old wood debris removed before it can sell. Kuntz said Chelan County and the port would each pay $200,000 for the cleanup.
“It looks like, magically, everything might align to make this work,” Kuntz said.
The wood cabinetry company, Traditional Woodcraft, likely will get another parcel, he said, and the port was working with the company on that. A 4.35-acre parcel next to Louws Truss was discussed, but it may be too large for the woodcraft company and it would require removal of wood waste.