By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — An attorney retained by a group of residents opposed to a proposed Thomas Street reconstruction project says AECOM’s testing of the subsoil was “never likely to reveal any contaminants of concern,” according to city documents.

The letter, written by Ted Warpinski of the Milwaukee law firm Friebert, Finerty & St. John, S.C., appears to have been added Wednesday to the packet of materials for tonight’s meeting of the city’s capital improvements and street maintenance, or CISM, committee. The meeting is slated for 5:30 p.m. at City Hall and will include a time for public comment.

The firm has been retained by a group of neighborhood residents referring to themselves as Citizens for an Environmentally Safe Thomas Street Neighborhood. The group is concerned about the plans for the redevelopment of Thomas Street, the impact such development may have on the neighborhood and the potential environmental and toxicological impacts of such development, according to Warpinski.

The letter, embedded below, charges that the six soil boring samples performed in August under the direction of AECOM did not test the areas of potential contamination that residents may come into direct contact with – namely the surface soils. The attorney points to a public health assessment manual on environmental contamination that indicates the importance of testing surface soils. That testing was not performed.

The letter states: “Based on our review, it would appear that the tests proposed and performed by AECOM were never likely to reveal any contaminants of concern in the areas where direct contact risks exist because the testing was targeting the subsurface. Under the circumstances, any decision to move forward with redevelopment without appropriate assessment of the surface soils and the risk to the residents would be arbitrary and capricious.”

The group is requesting the city table any further action on Thomas Street until independent testing can be performed.

Wausau Mayor Rob Mielke said the letter does not come as a complete surprise but he believes the city has shown the environmental concerns outlined by residents do not exist.

“I do believe a decision needs to be made,” Mielke said. “That said, we will do everything we can to move forward in a safe, secure manner.”Pages from CISM_20171012_Packet-1

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