Now that ExxonMobil has purchased the former site of Vacuum Oil, the city of Rochester is ready to end proceedings to seize a contaminated Flint Street property, assuming the new owner follows through on necessary remediation.
City officials planned to take 5 Flint St. through eminent domain in order to accelerate a clean-up remedy for the brownfield site. The contaminated property is a key piece in possible riverfront development in the Plymouth-Exchange neighborhood.
But ExxonMobil acquired both 5 Flint St. and 15 Flint St. on Aug. 31 from a limited liability company managed by Thomas Masaschi. A company spokesperson said the oil and gas conglomerate intends to facilitate cleanup.
“ExxonMobil takes its environmental responsibilities seriously,” spokesperson Lauren Kight said in an email to the Rochester Business Journal on Sept. 13. “We’re working to progress cleanup of the site. We’re also actively identifying parties who can develop the site and return it to beneficial use for the community.”
With remediation stalemated by the lawsuits, the city of Rochester intended to seize 5 Flint St. through eminent domain in order to pave the way to potential redevelopment of the area. The legal action may no longer be necessary.
“It appears there may be a solution for this property that does not require the city’s acquisition,” a city spokesperson said today. “The city is in communication with ExxonMobil as the transaction is being finalized.”
But the city reserves the right to follow through on the proceeding, if necessary.
“The city’s eminent domain proceeding is still pending, allowing the city to exercise its condemnation authority in the event that it is unable to work out an appropriate arrangement with ExxonMobil,” a spokesperson said.
ExxonMobil purchased 15 Flint St. for $995,000 and 5 Flint St. for $280,000 from One Flint St LLC, according to deeds filed with the Monroe County Clerk’s Office.
An order to sell the Flint Street properties had been issued in 2022 by the state Supreme Court in Monroe County to sell the properties, part of a foreclosure proceeding initiated by Henrietta-based commercial lender U.S. Income Partners.
But Masaschi also had a pending court action against ExxonMobil, the successor of Vacuum Oil, which operated a refinery and oil blending facility on the site from around 1866 to 1935. A court found ExxonMobil liable for at least some of the environmental clean-up costs.
The case was still active but, in the wake of the sale, attorneys for Masaschi and ExxonMobil jointly filed a stipulation of discontinuance with the court last week.
An environmental site assessment report prepared in 2012 for the city of Rochester revealed significant environmental contamination of soil and groundwater from volatile organic compounds, metals and other materials.
[email protected]/(585) 653-4020)e