Syosset Central School District Superintendent Thomas Rogers is asking for an independent evaluation of the environmental impact and “potential risks” of a mixed-use development planned for land next to South Grove Elementary School.
Rogers’ April 26 letter to Syosset residents comes in advance of a Town of Oyster Bay public hearing Tuesday night on the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Syosset Park development.
Syosset Park Development LLC — comprised of Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group and Manhasset-based Castagna Realty Co. — plans to build 625 town houses and condominiums, two hotels, a 30-acre park, stores, offices and restaurants on the site of the former Cerro Wire plant, a town landfill and a town public works complex.
Residents at a Syosset Park presentation in March demanded independent testing of the Cerro Wire site, the landfill and the surrounding area for radiation and contaminants. A Syosset resident’s online petition that has more than 600 signatures also requests independent testing.
Cerro Wire manufactured steel electrical conduits, hot rolled copper rods and steel strips. The state removed the property from its registry of hazardous waste disposal sites in 1994, after remediation. Additional cleanup was undertaken later by a prospective purchaser of the property, according to the environmental statement.
Rogers wrote in his letter that “given the scale of this project and the property’s historical context, we would want assurances that the project would not expose students, staff, and residents to environmental hazards.” Rogers also raised concerns about dust, noise and other impact construction work may have on South Grove school.
Charles Davis, senior vice president of development for Simon, said in a statement Friday that “while the Cerro Wire site was previously remediated with state oversight, Syosset Park is conducting further testing and studies under newer, more restrictive standards.”
Davis referred to a Town of Oyster Bay statement that the landfill is capped and monitored and tested regularly. Construction on Syosset Park cannot begin without state and federal environmental agencies’ approval, he added.
Rogers’ letter also outlines how the hundreds of children expected to live in the new housing — the district estimates an enrollment increase of 355 students, while Syosset Park officials project 243 — means the district “would have to consider expansion” and would incur higher operating costs. It is unclear how much new tax and other revenue, such as payments in lieu of taxes, the development would generate for the district, Rogers wrote.
Davis said Syosset Park “would provide significantly more property tax dollars per year potentially available to utilize for additional students.” The developer likely will pursue tax breaks for the offices in the development and possibly for the second of the two hotels, but not for the housing, he said.
The hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the Syosset High School auditorium. The environmental document is on the developer’s website at www.syossetpark.com.