Cold weather and ongoing litigation have delayed the filling of a hole next to an organic market and deli in downtown White Salmon.
The hole in question is on the property that contains Feast Market and Delicatessen at 320 E. Jewett Blvd. and has been owned by Howard Kreps since 2007.
A little more than a year ago, Kreps started excavation on the property to remove remnants of when it was previously used as a gas station and auto repair shop, including removing a 12,000-gallon gas tank under the parking lot.
At the time, Kreps tested the soil on the side of the property that previously held gas pumps and found oil and petroleum contamination along with two tanks that previously held oil, leading him to look into the possibility of previous owners taking responsibility for cleaning up the contamination.
Since then, a lawsuit, Kreps v. Nelson, has been filed in Klickitat Superior Court that is ongoing. The lawsuit names John Nelson, Max Logan, and Panelog, a partnership, as the defendants.
According to the complaint, Kreps is seeking reimbursement for the $108,606 he has incurred in costs so far while investigating and attempting to address the contamination he alleges was left by Pan-elog, the company in which Nelson and Logan are listed as partners. Kreps is also asking that Nelson and Logan be liable for the remainder of the clean-up, according to the complaint.
The hole hasn’t been touched in more than a year, except for when the City of White Salmon erected a fence in June. On Sept. 29 the city also issued Kreps a notice of violation requesting that the hole be filled by Oct. 29, but that was too short notice for Artistic Excavation, the contractor Kreps uses, so the date was pushed until Nov. 29.
Though Nov. 29 has come and gone, Kreps says he is still intending to fill the hole even though it will eventually have to be dug again once the pending litigation is resolved.
One of the biggest obstacles has been the weather.
“I’m getting it filled in, but I’m waiting on the weather and other issues,” Kreps said.
Aaron Kreps, owner of Artistic Excavation, also addressed the White Salmon City Council on Dec. 3 regarding the hole.
“As you all know it’s in litigation and the other party had to get some test results and they just got that about two weeks ago and we couldn’t fill it until they got those. Once they got the test results the weather turned and we just haven’t been able to do it. Our plan is to have it done in the next week, weather depending, but because of the snow and freezing rain we might have to push it out until we get a couple of good breaks in the weather,” Aaron Kreps said.
The city could fine Howard Kreps $100 per day until it is filled past Nov. 29, but there is also the possibility of that fine being waived by the White Salmon City Council if Kreps shows good intent that he will fill the hole, but cannot due to weather or other extenuating circumstances, according to White Salmon City Clerk Leana Johnson.
The council did not take any action regarding the hole at Wednesday’s meeting.