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Borough demolishes collapsed Sterling ZipMart

The ZipMart building on Wednesday, June 28.
Riley Board
The ZipMart building on Wednesday, June 28.

A collapsing former gas station and contamination site in Sterling has been demolished by the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The ZipMart, an abandoned building located on Swanson River Road a block off the Sterling Highway, began collapsing in April. Borough Mayor Peter Micciche said he found out about the issue from Facebook, where Sterling residents expressed concerns about the dangers of the structure.

The ZipMart closed in 2000, and the owners, Whittier Properties Inc., haven’t paid property taxes to the borough in decades. However, the borough was hesitant to foreclose on the property because it’s a contamination site — the Department of Environmental Conservation says more than 50 thousand gallons of gasoline leaked into the ground around the property after a pipe burst.

But when the building collapsed, Micciche said it was just too much of a hazard to leave alone. First, the borough sought an agreement with the state that seizing the property wouldn’t mean taking on the liability of the contamination site.

ZipMart debris is hauled off on Thursday, June 29
Courtesy Photo
ZipMart debris is hauled off on Thursday, June 29

Then last week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly okayed demolishing the building, and set aside up to $30,000 for the job.

Contractor Summit Excavation began the demolition Wednesday night. Thursday, they worked to haul off the debris of the ZipMart. On Facebook, Mayor Micciche thanked the public for alerting him to the collapse, and the assembly for supporting the demolition.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.
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