Nassau County will spend $2.5 million to build a new laboratory in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow to test the strength and design of asphalt, steel and other materials used in county buildings, administration officials said.
The 5,300-square-foot Material Testing Lab will be located behind the Department of Public Works facility and maintenance buildings on the east side of the park, near the Hempstead Turnpike entrance. It will be across the road from an area often used by picnic-goers and visible to the public.
Nassau will seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the lab, which replaces a county building destroyed in superstorm Sandy, said public works department spokesman Mike Martino.
The one-story steel-and-brick building will contain offices for five employees and be used to test and inspect rebar, asphalt, concrete, wire and paint for county projects, "ensuring that the materials meet the county's standards," county spokesman Brian Nevin said.
The lab will not perform tests for hazardous chemicals such as asbestos, Martino said. The county outsources asbestos and mold testing to J.C. Broderick & Associates in Hauppauge, while asbestos and mold remediation is performed by Branch Services Inc. of Ronkonkoma, he said.
Martino said the building materials will be delivered to Eisenhower Park in county vehicles and "do not pose any health risks. In general, material samples are small and can fit in a bucket or sample jar."
Bruce Piel, chairman of the Park Advocacy & Recreation Council of Nassau, a coalition of advocacy groups that works to protect county parkland, said the lab does not belong in Eisenhower Park.
"It's not a parks purpose," Piel said. "It seems like it belongs in a DPW facility rather than using up precious parkland to build it."
Eisenhower Park was chosen because it is centrally located and has space for the facility, Martino said.
The lab originally was in a small building outside the Bay Park Sewage Treatment plant in East Rockaway. The plant, located in a 100-year flood plain, was flooded with 9 1/2 feet of water and was knocked out of service for 57 days after Sandy.
Nassau is spending $830 million in federal and state dollars to repair the Bay Park plant and fortify the facility with an 18-foot concrete wall and earthen berm.
The county solicited bids on July 25 for vendors to construct the new lab, and responses are due by Aug. 22. Construction is expected to begin late this fall and be completed within a year.
Nassau has submitted documentation to FEMA requesting reimbursement for storm-related damages to the lab under the agency's Public Assistance Program.