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Hempstead to fund improvements at plant where Freon was found

The $1.1 million in grants will fund programs

The $1.1 million in grants will fund programs to aid the poor in Hempstead Village. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Hempstead Village Board voted Tuesday to authorize $4.4 million in bonds for improvements to the village's drinking water infrastructure, including at a plant where the contaminant Freon 22 was found.

The two sets of bonds are for up to $1.84 million to drill two water wells at Kennedy Park, and up to $2.57 million for an additional filtration system to extract Freon 22 from the wells at the village's water plant on Laurel Avenue.

The village closed two wells at Laurel Avenue in February and March after finding low levels of the chemical, which can leech into groundwater from air conditioning units, said Bob Holzmacher, a Ronkonkoma-based water consultant hired by the village.

Low levels of the chemical in drinking water is not toxic to humans, but it can be harmful to the environment, he said.

To remove the Freon 22, the village plans to build an "air stripping tower" at the site, Holzmacher said.

Glen Cove is also building air stripping towers after detecting Freon 22 in water wells in the past two years, Newsday has reported.

Hempstead plans to drill the new wells at Kennedy Park to alleviate the burden on its water plant on Clinton Street, which has seven wells, Holzmacher said.

"We're trying to spread around the water supply," he said.

Village Treasurer Raymond Calame said the village will go to market for the bonds in February 2019. He said the interest rate on the up-to-40-year bonds will likely be around 3 to 4 percent.

Mayor Don Ryan said after the 5-0 vote Tuesday that the improvements were a necessity.

"It's something that we have to do," he said.

Holzmacher said he hopes that construction at Kennedy Park will begin this fall and conclude by summer 2020, and that construction at Laurel Avenue will conclude by the summer 2019.

The village is currently seeking permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for the work, he said.

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