The York Board of Selectmen have agreed to pay for a detailed assessment of the Maine Department of Transportation facility on Route 1, after an engineer hired by the town said there are too many unanswered questions about what lies underground for the town to move forward with its purchase.

The selectmen earlier this year hired Todd Scheffer of SRW Environmental Consulting to complete a “tier 1” assessment of the property. Town voters last May approved the purchase of the property, but questions were subsequently raised about its environmental condition because it’s been a garage since the 1940s.

“Todd told me he feels strongly the town should undertake further testing to better understand the extent of possible environmental issues,” Town Manager Stephen Burns said.

For instance, Scheffer found records indicating the existence of nine or 10 underground storage tanks, but there are MDOT closure reports for only two, he said. There are also floor drains in the upper buildings that prior to 1990 drained oil directly into the ground, he said, as another example.

“Todd indicated there is enough uncertainty about possible contaminants that it would be prudent to collect soil and water tests,” Burns said. “He said some of the earlier remediation work may or may not have been adequate by today’s standards.”

The cost is expected to be as little as $6,000 and as much as $10,000, and Burns suggested selectmen take it out of their contingency account. However, board Chairman Todd Frederick asked if the town could tap the money set aside to pay for transitional costs to move the town’s public works department to the Route 1 property.

In other business, the selectmen have asked to hear from Glenn Farrell, contracted to construct the York Beach Bathhouse, at their Sept. 11 meeting. His business, YFI Custom Homes has agreed to a fixed price contract in the amount of $790,839. There is $574,839 currently set aside for the project.

The expectation is that selectmen on Sept. 11 will approve a special budget referendum for the November ballot, allocating the remaining $216,000 from the recent sale of town-owned property.

Selectman Robert Palmer said he wanted clarification on a number of cost issues, because “I want to make sure I know what we’re getting.” Most concerning to him is that initial costs for contingency were pegged at $23,000, he said, and now it’s set at $36,000. “You would think as we refine the numbers, contingency would go lower.”

Frederick agreed. “It needs to be right this time. When we meet on the 11th, let’s make sure the plans are as tight as they can possibly be.”