Ex-Kings Park psych center smokestack set for demolition
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A smokestack that towers over abandoned hospital buildings at the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center is set to be destroyed Wednesday as part of the ongoing demolition of vacant buildings at the site, state officials said.
The implosion, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., will be open to the public, officials said. Viewing will be restricted to areas at least 1,000 feet away, and nearby roads such as Kings Park Boulevard will be closed.
The 220-foot-high smokestack is the only structure that will be imploded during the first phase of demolition at the hospital, which closed in 1996. Crews are using trucks to tear down 18 other structures, including staff residences, kitchens and dining halls, treatment facilities and a morgue.
The solid brick smokestack is expected to collapse quickly, said Brian X. Foley, deputy Long Island region director of the state parks office, which owns the property. The implosion will be carried out by crews from National Salvage & Service Corp., of Bloomington, Ind., which has a $6.4 million state contract to demolish 19 buildings at the 521-acre site.
County and state parks police and Smithtown public safety officers will monitor the demolition, which is expected to occur rain or shine.
"It shouldn't take too long, according to the demolition experts," Foley said.
The smokestack had been part of a power plant that provided electricity to dozens of buildings and thousands of patients who lived at the hospital.
When the hospital closed, the smokestack became an iconic focal point for neighbors -- many of whom flooded state parks officials with calls asking when the spire would be torn down.
"There's been great interest expressed in the Kings Park community about this for a period of time," Foley said. "Part of it is curiosity and part of it is the structures have been part of the community for a long time."
Demolition of vacant structures at the site began in August and is expected to be completed by fall. Foley said the work is ahead of schedule.
More structures are to be taken down in a second round of demolitions. No schedule for the second phase has been set.
About one-third of the hospital property is Nissequogue River State Park. The remainder is undesignated land maintained by the state parks office.
The smokestack is on the undesignated section of the property. State officials have said they will develop a master plan for the site after the second demolition phase.