$500,000 to ensure no toxins beneath new arena

Orlando will pay a consultant $500,000 to make sure there is no pollution lurking under the sneakers of the Orlando Magic when the team moves to its new home court.

The City Council voted Monday to hire Geo-Cleanse International of New Jersey to clean up chemical contamination in underground water and topsoil at the site of the city's future downtown arena. The land just west of Interstate 4 in Parramore has to be cleaned up before construction can begin.


It was one of several contracts approved Monday related to the city's $1.1 billion plan for new arts and sports venues.

Tests have found traces of PCE, or tetrachloroethene, in groundwater on the nine-acre arena site. The chemical is a widely used industrial degreasing solvent that city officials think leaked from a business that's no longer there.


Early estimates predicted that the cleanup could top $1 million, depending on the extent of the pollution. Mayor Buddy Dyer said he was pleased that the bill won't be that expensive, and he stressed that the contamination isn't a threat to residents or Magic fans.

"There's no health risk at all," he said.

If the cleanup plan is approved by state regulators as city officials expect, Geo-Cleanse International will inject chemical agents underground that will break down the PCE into relatively harmless compounds. The company also will remove about 4 feet of topsoil.

Public Works Director Alan Oyler said the cleanup should be completed by March, followed by six months of monitoring to ensure it was successful.

The council also:

*Approved the ranking of firms that have applied to serve as the city's representative during the construction of the arena, performing-arts center and renovated Citrus Bowl stadium. The "owner's representative" will assist city staffers in tracking the projects, estimating costs and reviewing designs.

URS Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, was ranked highest by a selection committee. Tim Ackert, hired two months ago to be the city's venues project director, used to work for URS.

*Approved top ranking for an architecture firm that will handle the nuts-and-bolts design of a new performing-arts center.


Dallas-based HKS Inc., which has partnered with the Orlando firm Baker Barrios, will work with the design architect already selected for the center, Barton Myers Associates of Los Angeles.

HKS helped design the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples. Baker Barrios worked on the News-Journal Center performance hall in Daytona Beach.

*Ranked consultants who applied to oversee the participation of minority- and female-owned contractors in the design and construction of the arts center.

Anderson & Associates of Orlando was ranked the highest. Veronica Anderson, who has directed minority-business-enterprise programs for the city, Orange County and state, heads the company.

The council's action allows city and arts-center staffers to negotiate contracts with each of the top-ranked firms. If the parties can't come to terms -- which is unlikely at this stage -- staffers move on to the second-place consultant.