Closed convenience store, gas station destined to return to ‘natural condition’ | SteamboatToday.com

Closed convenience store, gas station destined to return to ‘natural condition’

— Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District General Manager Frank Alfone said July 24 that, after purchasing the Shop & Hop convenience store and gas station on U.S. Highway 40 this month to protect its nearby well field along the Yampa River from contamination, the near-term intention of his board of directors is to return the site to "its natural condition."

"We would like to reserve the right, potentially, to put a new (water filtration) plant on that site," Alfone said. "There's an outside chance it could be used for another treatment facility, but that would be well down the road."

Records on file at Routt County confirm the water district purchased the property from Terry Marcum on July 24 for $750,000. Alfone confirmed the price is justified by the goal of protecting its nearby alluvial well field along the Yampa just downstream from Dougherty Drive and immediately to the west of Majestic Valley Townhomes. The well fields provide 20 percent of the Steamboat Springs' water supply, with the majority coming from Fish Creek.

The Water District released a press release saying the owner of Shop & Hop had plans to expand its operation to add diesel fuel and food service, which, in its view, might have triggered the need to expand the facility's septic system.

"Protection of our groundwater resource is of paramount importance to our community and is consistent with the mission of the district," Board President Kathy Connell was quoted saying in the release.

Marcum could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

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The release went on to say: "The continued operation of the convenience store had become a concern of the district since contaminated soils and a 300-foot plume of contaminants were discovered on site in 2000. State-mandated remedial work was initiated in 2000 and the clean-up completed in 2011. However, the possibility of another sub-surface leak or surface spill or the effects of the cumulative surface contamination would continue to pose a risk to the community's groundwater supply and the district's multi-million dollar investment in well field infrastructure."

Shop & Hop has been located on the west side of U.S. Highway 40, just south of the city limits, and Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger confirmed this week that it is among a small handful of grandfathered commercial properties existing outside of urban centers in the county. Any change of use in the future would required the owners to come back to the county for a permit, he added.

Shop and Hop, in the meantime, has ceased operations, and Marcum is expected to begin decommissioning fuel storage tanks and related infrastructure this summer.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1