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GASOLINE CLEANUP MAY DELAY URBAN MINISTRY MOVE
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GASOLINE CLEANUP MAY DELAY URBAN MINISTRY MOVE

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The operator of a service station suspected to have leaky gasoline tanks has been given 30 days to vacate so the tanks can be removed. The cleanup could delay Greensboro Urban Ministry, which owns the property, from moving its night shelter from an adjacent building.

T.O. Stokes Jr., who has operated the Amoco station at Douglas Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive for more than 20 years, said this week that he knew of soil testing but was never told the results.``I even came in on a Wednesday to give them access to electricity so they could test,' he said in disgust. His station is closed Sundays and Wednesdays.

Stokes has leased the station for more than 20 years from Urban Ministry and the site's previous owner, W.H. Weaver. The station's gasoline storage tanks and other equipment are leased from Kyle Harris of Kyle's Friendly Service.

Harris said Monday he will remove the tanks after Stokes is out of the station.

Removal of the tanks and any contaminated soil could give the Greensboro Urban Ministry's night shelter even more time to prepare for its move to a new location.

The shelter, currently housed on the site in a building adjacent to the service station, is to be moved to the Flowers Bakery building at 305 W. Lee St., which Urban Ministry bought in February for $410,000.

The ministry must raise more than $1 million to renovate its new building, according to the Rev. Mike Aiken, the ministry's executive director

Part of that money will come from sale of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive site to the Greensboro Redevelopment Commission. The commission had previously agreed to buy the site, and voted Monday to pay $375,000.

But the commission stipulated that it will not close on the sale until the tanks are removed and the state certifies that no contamination remains, a process that could take several months.

The commission also decided that the night shelter may remain rent-free at its present site for up to 18 months after the sale is closed. That delay is intended to give the Urban Ministry time to raise money and carry out renovations at the West Lee Street site.

The soil contamination was found after the commission, not wanting to be legally liable for environmental problems on property it was buying, hired a consultant to test the soil at the site in early March.

Those tests showed ``relatively minor' gasoline contamination, the consultant said.

Robert E. Barkley, the commission's executive director, said Tuesday that the commission plans no additional testing.

``My understanding is that when (a contractor) starts digging at the site ... state people will determine from actual visual inspection what needs to be done to remedy any environmental problems,' Barkley said.

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