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Garvies Point environmental cleanup questioned by attorney

The nearly completed new Glen Cove ferry terminal

The nearly completed new Glen Cove ferry terminal on Jan. 19, 2016. The terminal has long been a part of the planned $1 billion, 56-acre waterfront Garvies Point project. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

An attorney for North Shore residents seeking to nullify the Glen Cove planning board’s approval of a massive redevelopment of the city’s waterfront said city officials misled the public and the state about the extent of environmental cleanup of the former industrial site.

“They have misrepresented to the public that this land has been remediated, cleaned up and ready to go,” said Sea Cliff lawyer Amy Marion.

The $1 billion, 56-acre Garvies Point project, which would be built by Uniondale-based developer RXR, would include 1,110 condominium and rental units, four parks, three marinas, stores, a restaurant, offices, an amphitheater and other amenities. RXR hopes to begin construction in May, said Frank Haftel, director of the Garvies Point project for RXR.

Michael Zarin, an attorney for Glen Cove in the case, called the allegation that the city misled the public “ludicrous” and said the city has not said the site is fully remediated.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — which have funded $100 million for remediation — are constantly monitoring the cleanup, he said.

“We can’t do anything without the DEC’s and EPA’s thorough, careful review and concurrence,” Zarin said.

A DEC spokesman said in a statement that the agency “has reviewed all remedial work for compliance with applicable regulations and proposed future use . . . and does not believe that the City has misled the department on the amount of cleanup.”

The comments are the latest volleys in a suit filed in State Supreme Court in November by 39 residents to invalidate a special-use permit the planning board granted on Oct. 6 for the project and to require the city to prepare a new environmental impact statement for the site. The suit now has 105 plaintiffs from Glen Cove and nearby communities.

A separate lawsuit by the Village of Sea Cliff, filed on the same day as the residents’ action, also seeks to nullify the planning board’s permit.

Zarin, of White Plains, said there were not enough changes in the project in the past several years to necessitate a new, exhaustive environmental study. The last one was in 2011.

But Marion said the 2011 study was based on incomplete information, because the city, she charged, repeatedly downplayed the remaining contamination on the site and misrepresented plans for future cleanup.

Marion said some of the changes to the project in recent years have serious environmental implications. For example, additional dredging in Glen Cove Creek will send polluted sediment into Hempstead Harbor, endangering shellfish beds, she said.

Zarin said the type and amount of dredging currently planned is “very much similar” to previous plans, and the effect of dredging has been thoroughly studied.

He said that, in any complex project such as Garvies Point, there are different interpretations of information. The numerous exchanges among the city and environmental agencies illustrate how thoroughly the agencies are monitoring the cleanup and how “it’s a completely open and transparent process,” he said.

An EPA spokesman declined to comment.

Public meeting information

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will hold a public meeting on the cleanup of two sections of the 56-acre Glen Cove waterfront redevelopment site. The meeting is at 7 p.m. March 23 at Glen Cove City Hall. Details of the meeting, links to documents and information on submitting written comments — due by April 15 — can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/calendar by clicking on the two Glen Cove items for March 23.

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