State lawmakers have approved a plan to transfer without cost an abandoned armory to the North Patchogue Fire District, which plans to use it as a maintenance facility.
The Assembly and New York State Senate also approved $150,000 to rid the structure of contaminants such as asbestos and mercury, said Assemb. Edward Hennessey (D-Medford).
The legislation was approved as part of the 2014-15 state budget signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Hennessey said. The armory, on Barton Avenue in North Patchogue, has been vacant since the National Guard left about three years ago.
"The fire district has long expressed an interest in taking it and using it for fire-related services," Hennessey said. "It's well-suited for the purposes of the fire department."
Fire officials plan to make part of the 3-acre property available for use by community groups, said Paul Gonnelly, chairman of the North Patchogue board of fire commissioners.
"I didn't want to see it become an eyesore, a vacant lot that nobody wanted," he said. "It's a win for the North Patchogue district, and it's a win for our community that it will be a benefit for the people of North Patchogue and Medford."
Gonnelly said the fire district plans to refurbish the armory and use it as a truck maintenance shed. He said North Patchogue officials plan to invite other area fire departments to share the facility.
He could not estimate when the cleanup or construction would be completed.
A 2012 survey found the building was contaminated with asbestos and had elevated concentrations of mercury, Hennessey said in a news release.
Gonnelly said the building's basement contains lead from its use as a firearms range by the National Guard. The structure's roof also was damaged by superstorm Sandy in October 2012, he said.
Gonnelly said he could not estimate the cost of retrofitting the armory. He said the fire district would have paid at least $1 million if it had to buy land and construct a new maintenance facility.
"We don't have to construct anything," he said. "We don't have to buy [land] . . . and make the taxpayers pay for it."