Still Contaminated, Big plans for superfund site
WEST ISLIP—An application that was presented before the planning board last week drew a lot of West Islip residents to the meeting. However, while learning about the future plans for the site, residents were stunned to also hear that the former home of Dzus Fastener Company, which was deemed a superfund site in the 1990s and supposedly fully remediated several years later, still had some contamination issues.
Attorney Anthony Guardino presented an application for his client 425 Union Blvd. Associates LLC for a 4-acre parcel on the northeast corner of Union Blvd. and Beach Street where several buildings are currently vacant. The applicant was seeking a change of zone from Industrial 1 District to Business 3 District. A special permit was also requested for a gasoline station, a planning board special permit for a fast-food restaurant, a convenience store, as well as a minor restaurant with outdoor seating. Site plan modification was also requested.
Guardino went on to explain that the parcel would be split into three uses: a QuickChek gas station with adjoining convenience store, the fast-food eatery with a drive-through and a small strip mall for retail use He noted that the requested variance would be for the north side of the property that was adjacent to the railroad tracks, which would not impact any residents. He said there would be one acre of landscaping and 173 parking spaces, which is more than what the town requires. However, before redevelopment, he said the property would need to be remediated once again.
Michael Bluight, an environmental engineer, said that upon inspection, toxic materials in the ground were detected, including cyanide, arsenic and other heavy metals.
The initial environmental work on the property included the cleanup of nearby Capri Lake, where toxins had flowed underground through leaching pools. Bluight said that 8,100 tons of hazardous soil had been encapsulated at that time.
“We found residual contamination that was not addressed,” he added.
He said that the new owners of the property would be willing to foot the bill to clean the site and that the Department of Environmental Conservation would also monitor the work.
“It will be substantial and also a substantial cost to our client,” he remarked, and added that the cost could be up to $400,000.
“There’s a lot of work that’s needed to be done to prepare the site,” said Guardino.
One resident who lives nearby said she was shocked to hear about the remaining toxins. “There’s still a tremendous amount of contamination,” she said, and asked where the oversight was during that cleanup effort.
“What assurances will we have …that there’s not going to be further contamination by putting in another gas station?” she added, noting that there are currently many gas stations in the hamlet.
Another resident asked if the property would be “tented” during the demolition of the existing buildings to prevent any airborne contamination.
Joe Di Carlo, president of the West Islip Association, who prefaced that his group was in favor of the development, asserted, “This property is a toxic dump.” He added, “This is a great opportunity for it to be cleaned up. We have an owner interested in [remediation].”
Di Carlo said he’d met with the architects for the project and was not happy with the initial design plans. He said his organization would like to meet with them again to achieve a design that’s the right look for the hamlet.
Marion Burns, another resident, said she is concerned about traffic. “Where are all of those cars going to go?” she asked. “How is that road going to accommodate that [extra] stress?”
A traffic specialist explained that there would be only three curb cuts for the development, two of them on Union Blvd. He noted that the traffic flow for all three facets of the development would be able to utilize an existing light that controls traffic from the shopping center across the road.
Resident Nancy Donohue said she was also concerned about traffic. She asked the board to “please consider the safety of our community.”
The board reserved decision until a traffic impact study is completed and the environmental issues that were raised are further reviewed.
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