City of Warsaw to acquire gas station near Central Park

(Dan Spalding / Times-Union)

Less than a year after it was proposed as part of numerous improvements along Center Lake Park, the city is close to acquiring a shuttered gas station at the corner of Canal and North Detroit streets.

The city’s redevelopment commission voted Monday to purchase the gas station property for $152,500 from JPJ Food Mart Inc.

The sale price is based on two appraisals.

The property is being sold “as is” and officials hope to close on the sale this month.

The business has been closed for about two years and the owner was motivated to sell, said city planner Jeremy Skinner.

Removal of the gas station is part of a plan to enhance the park entrance at Canal Street and is one of several improvements adopted by the parks and recreation board last year after hearing recommendations from Design Collaborative, Fort Wayne.

Park board members envision using part of that land for a dedicated turn lane for southbound motorists wanting to enter the park.

Establishing a turn lane would require approval from Indiana Department of Transportation since North Detroit Street is also part of Ind. 15. Parks Superintendent Larry Plummer said he thinks that type of approval from the state is “obtainable.”

While acquisition of the property was rather swift, preparing the land for future use might take more time.

The city is seeking grant money to pay for demolition of the building as well as removal of underground tanks and remediation of surrounding dirt.

Authorities already know there was some leaking of the tanks based on a study conducted about six years ago, but the contamination is  not spreading, Skinner said.

As a result, the property had some use restrictions placed on it.

Grant funding will likely dictate the time frame for removal of the tanks.

The city is seeking grant money from the federal Environmental Protection Agency through Michiana Area Council of Governments and will talk with the state in hopes of using money reserved for addressing abandoned gas stations, Skinner said.

“It would be our goal to take the building down as soon as possible rather than let it sit there,” Skinner said.

In addition to an improved entrance with better signage, the park board is eyeing construction of a building near the property that could serve as a greenhouse and visitor center.

The greenhouse could be used by those who care for the nearby Warsaw Biblical Gardens and the Gardens of Central Park, Plummer said.

Those plans are  tentative, Plummer said.