An unmanicured mat of vegetation covers the ground where the Twin City Foods plant once processed peas in Lewiston.
In the 15 years since the plant discontinued its Idaho operations, one of the only activities on the site has been removing the more than 150,000-square-foot building in 2010 that had been home to the business.
City officials considered a proposal in 2017 from a business that wanted to make lemonade, bottle water and have a family fun center on the site, but that was shelved when financing couldn’t be secured.
But recently, when I was getting my hair done, the chatter at the salon was about how work at the site could signal that someone had acquired the property from Twin City Foods.
We all know the best gossip comes from beauty parlors and bars. I made a mental note to check on what I heard.
It turns out, Twin City Foods still owns the now vacant 11½ acres that is listed at $2.5 million on the website of the Kiele Hagood real estate agency. That price is down from $3.7 million listed in 2017.
While there is no buyer yet, there is “consistent general interest (including) two potential buyers (whose) interest level I would rate as high,” Justin Rasmussen, the broker for Twin City Foods, said in a text.
But behind the scenes, government employees are trying to make the land more appealing to a buyer.
The city of Lewiston enrolled the site in a brownfield program. That status, along with permission from Twin City Foods, enabled an environmental assessment to be done on the property, said Steve Gill, brownfields analyst with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
The assessment involved digging hundreds of test holes between 2015 and 2017 with the $193,500 of work being paid for by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The only potential problems that were found were arsenic, believed not to be from Twin City Foods, and thallium, a byproduct of demolishing concrete, on half to 1 acre of the site, Gill said.
Another $14,000 is being spent to survey and study the area where those elements were found, he said.
The results of that analysis are expected to be finished as early as the end of January and will determine what actions, if any, are needed to prevent their presence from becoming a health hazard, Gill said.
Possible remedies include removing soil or encapsulating it underneath a parking lot.
Once that process is complete, it appears the site would be available for any kind of development other than single-family housing or a playground, he said.
Overall what is being learned is a relief, said Lewiston Building Official John Smith, given the multitude of roles the land has played for the community.
Before Twin City Foods arrived, it was a place where fuel that was transported up the Snake River in vessels was transferred to storage tanks, rail cars or trucks.
Fragments of china and other refuse were unearthed at the site in 2012 when Fifth Street was reconstructed, relics of when part of it was a dump.
“It’s been a hodgepodge of different things over the course of Lewiston being here,” Smith said.
Williams may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2261.