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UNM Negotiation with Railroad Last Hurdle in Purchase of Site for Innovate ABQ

Albuquerque, NM – June 3, 2014 The University of New Mexico hopes to complete its negotiations of an indemnification agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company soon so that it can move forward with the purchase of the Central/Broadway site for Innovate ABQ. The agreement is the final step needed before UNM seeks final approval from its Board of Regents. To read more, see Kevin Robinson-Avila’s May 30th article “Railroad Indemnity Needed for Innovate ABQ” from the Albuquerque Journal’s eJournal Blogs webpage, reprinted below.

Railroad indemnity needed for Innovate ABQ

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

University of New Mexico officials are negotiating with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. over indemnification for diesel contamination at the First Baptist Church property Downtown.

An agreement is needed before UNM’s Science and Technology Corp. can request final approval from the Board of Regents to purchase the property at Broadway Boulevard and Central Avenue, where UNM and the city want to locate the planned high-tech research and development district Innovate ABQ.

Regents gave STC a green light to buy the $6.6 million property last December under condition that the university first receive assurances from current land owners, the state Environment Department and Burlington Northern that UNM will not be held liable for environmental problems related to the site.

Most issues have been resolved since then, such as concerns about some asbestos in tiles in buildings following surveys of those structures, said Lisa Kuuttila, STC head and UNM’s chief economic development officer.

But a UNM-financed geophysical survey of the seven-acre site, including a soil vapor analysis, has revealed diesel contamination in some places at depths of 19 and 30 feet.

That’s not surprising, Kuuttila said, given that the railroad operated a refueling station there years ago. But UNM and the railroad still need to agree on mutually acceptable levels of indemnification.

STC still hopes to have an agreement in hand in time for the next regents’ meeting on June 13, Kuuttila said. If not, the regents’ next scheduled gathering isn’t until August.

Source: Albuquerque Journal

For more information, contact:

Kevin Robinson-Avila