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NYS: Amazon warehouse can safely be built in Syosset

The state has approved a cleanup plan for

The state has approved a cleanup plan for the Cerro Wire site, which has been vacant for decades. Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

State regulators have given the go-ahead for an Amazon warehouse to be built on the polluted Cerro Wire site in Syosset, saying the developer's cleanup plan "is protective of public health."

The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health have approved a remediation plan from Syosset Park Development LLC, which owns the site, according to records obtained by Newsday on Wednesday.

The $6.7 million plan calls for placing clean soil on open areas of the Robbins Lane property that are not covered by the 204,000-square-foot warehouse, parking lots and sidewalks. There will be air monitoring and supervision by state officials, the records state.

"A site-specific health and safety plan and a community air monitoring plan will be implemented during remediation activities," DEC said, adding the plans will "protect on-site workers and surrounding property owners."

The cleanup will start this month and continue for 10 months. The Cerro Wire site, once home to heavy manufacturing, has been the subject of previous remediation, and DEC said copper and petroleum chemicals are now the primary pollutants.

State approval of the cleanup plan was the last major hurdle to redevelopment of the property, which has been vacant for decades, north of the Long Island Expressway service road. Proposals for a shopping mall and a housing and retail development were scuttled because of community opposition.

"This is great news as decades of contamination is finally being remedied while bringing hundreds of new jobs and smart development to the property," Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said on Wednesday. "Upon receiving this news from the DEC, the town approved the building permit application so the cleanup and overall project can commence quickly."

The Syosset Central School District, which has two schools near the Cerro Wire site, "is reviewing the DEC documents," said spokeswoman Tricia Williams. The district had expressed concern about pollutants becoming airborne during construction and proposed additional cleanup measures.

The Syosset schools also opposed the tax breaks granted to Syosset Park and Amazon by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency in March. The 15-year tax deal is contingent on state approval of the remediation plan, said IDA board chairman Richard Kessel.

"We plan to close on the deal within the next couple of days," he said on Wednesday. "We want to get this project going as quickly as possible because it means jobs."

Opponents of the Amazon warehouse had lobbied DEC and the health department to require a 100% cleanup of the Cerro Wire property, which would have cost $137 million and taken 4 1/2 years to complete, according to estimates from Syosset Park.

The $72 million warehouse will operate 24 hours per day year-round and employ 150 managers and package handlers. In addition, several hundred jobs will be created by the independent transportation companies whose van drivers will pick up packages for delivery, according to the application for IDA tax breaks.

Syosset Park is a partnership between Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, which owns Roosevelt Field mall, and Manhasset-based Castagna Realty Co., which owns the Americana shopping center. Representatives of both companies didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Amazon spokeswoman Jenna Hilzenrath declined to confirm that Amazon plans to use the Syosset warehouse, saying, "We have a policy of not commenting on our future roadmap."

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