The North Hempstead Town Board has delayed its decision on issuing $20.9 million in bonds for a well cleanup and other projects by the Roslyn Water District, urging district officials to meet with residents who said they had little notice about the mitigation measures.
At a three-hour public hearing Tuesday, the district's attorney, Peter Fishbein, and engineers presented a plan to address Freon 22 contamination found in the district's well in Roslyn Estates. The plan would have used $4 million of the bond to build an air stripper, a facility that would remove contamination from the water and send it into the air.
Fishbein said the district has shut down two wells as a result of the contamination, which is from an unknown source, and is eyeing closing a third well.
Approving the bond request would "allow the district to remediate and add the requested facilities," he said.
The Nassau County health department said this week the water in the Roslyn district meets all safety standards for potable drinking water.
The district's superintendent, Richard J. Passariello, said construction on the air stripper needed to begin soon for the well to be back online during summer's peak demand for water. But dozens of residents who packed Tuesday's hearing asked the town board to wait, saying the district did not inform them about the project, its potential hazards, or possible alternatives to the air stripper.
"I sure would like a public hearing," said East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz. "Once we get our answers, they've got to fix the thing, and we've got to make sure they fix it right."Brett Auerbach, who purchased a home last year next to the proposed air stripper site in Roslyn Estates, said he was concerned about the environmental impact of the structure and the effects of the Freon 22. "We need to slow this down," Auerbach said. "We need the proper studies."
Roslyn Water District chairman Michael Kosinski said the air stripper was the best option in an emergency. "We perhaps blundered by not having more meetings earlier," he said.
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth asked the district to hold a public meeting with its residents and recommended delaying a vote on the bonds until the board's next meeting on Feb. 25. She said, "there has not been a sufficient amount of communication with the people from the Roslyn community." "It may not solve the greater problem, but it gives you the opportunity to meet together so people are reassured."
Fishbein said the district would notify residents of its public meeting, to be held Feb. 11, but added emergency contingency measures might have to be put in place as a result of the delay, including an end to irrigation.