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Freeport officials trying to force state to vacate site

Freeport Mayor Robert T. Kennedy stands amidst the

Freeport Mayor Robert T. Kennedy stands amidst the old truck yard -- part of village property that he wants the state to clean up in order to enhance the environment and allow for the building of homes -- on June 17, 2015. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy has gone to court to try to force the state to remove trucks and other items from a yard at 223 Sunrise Hwy.

"It's village property, and we've been trying to get them out of here for years," he said Wednesday morning, surrounded by supporters before a news conference he held in front of the fenced yard.

He said village officials filed an order in state Supreme Court in Mineola early Wednesday, "asking that the state show why it should not remove all the debris, trucks [and] waste . . . [on] this DOT property," Kennedy said.

The request is answerable at a June 25 court hearing.

Freeport officials say the village owns the 1.25-acre site, and Kennedy said he wants the DOT to move less than 2 miles away to an underused state yard in Merrick. "That yard is 7.71 acres," he said.

State officials would not discuss the issue of ownership. But Jennifer Post, a spokeswoman for the DOT in Albany, said the agency would oppose relocation.

"Giving up a key DOT facility on Long Island would be irresponsible, threatening our ability to do our job effectively . . . when extreme weather has repeatedly been a significant factor," she said.

Kennedy was joined in protest by environmentalists with the group SPLASH, holding up signs that read: "Freeport Is No Junkyard" and "New York State DOT Must Move."

Rob Weltner, head of the Freeport-based SPLASH, said: "This yard is certainly not in the best interest of the environment, with street sweepings and giant piles of asphalt here."

Kennedy also said the village has a developer who wants to put up market rental housing. "Freeport has entered a contract to develop this property, generating $53 million in construction costs and an estimated $4.6 million in construction tax revenues," he said.

Kennedy said the case came before Supreme Court Justice Angela Iannacci last week, and the state said it had an easement, or rights to the property, but could not put their hands on it.

"The judge gave the state until September to produce the document," Kennedy said. "We need to clean up this property -- remove the street sweepings, old tires, Dumpsters, garbage, shopping carts and contaminated waste," he added.


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