2009-10-21 / Front Page

City applies for grant to clean up SOC Station

By Deborah Bennett Millen News Editor

This architectural drawing depicts the City of Millen's planned project for the site of the SOC Station once the area has been cleaned up. This architectural drawing depicts the City of Millen's planned project for the site of the SOC Station once the area has been cleaned up. For many years the old SOC Station on Winthrope Avenue, across from the Jenkins County Courthouse, has been an eyesore in downtown Millen. The City of Millen moved a little closer to getting the site cleaned up last week with the announcement that it is applying for a $200,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to fund the project. The City's share of the cost, which may be labor, materials and services, would be 20 percent, or $40,000.

The SOC Station was previously operated as a gasoline station and automobile repair shop. The major environmental concerns at the site are from lead and petroleum leaks from three underground storage tanks into the soils. The building also contains asbestos, lead paint and is infested by a colony of bats. However, the City has confirmed that the underground storage tanks at the site are now empty, and there no continuing releases or threat of a release.

The City took ownership of the property from the estate of the previous owner, Ayre Lee Aycock, in February and has entered the property into the Georgia Brownfield program. Two site assessments have been performed and a corrective action plan has been completed.

The master plan for renovation of the site includes public outdoor seating and greenspace landscaping with trees, sidewalks, benches and a bicycle rack. In addition, the large SOC Station sign will be refurbished and placed as a tribute to the historical use of the site. A small plaque recognizing the former owner, Leon Aycock, will be placed in the public seating area. The City is also considering utilizing part of the future building for nonprofit uses including a visitor's center or office space for the Millen Downtown Development Authority. The site may also be developed to include a restaurant for the convenience of those attending court at the Jenkins County Courthouse.

The project is expected to increase the City tax base revenues by $100,000-$130,000 over the next 10 years and create 12-14 permanent jobs.

A decision on the grant application will not come until May 2010, and if approved, work on the project will not start until October 2010.

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