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N. Hempstead to assess properties for brownfield contamination

A $300,000 grant from the EPA will be used to identify sites in the hamlet that may contain petroleum, pollutants or other hazardous substances.

A sign for the hamlet of New Cassel

A sign for the hamlet of New Cassel on July 13, 2015, along Prospect Avenue. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

North Hempstead Town officials will soon begin assessing potential contaminated properties in the hamlet of New Cassel and developing cleanup plans.

Officials recently announced that in April the Environmental Protection Agency awarded the town $300,000 to conduct brownfield assessments.

A brownfield is a property potentially or definitively containing hazardous substances or contaminants such as petroleum, according to the EPA website. The federal agency provides grants of as much as $350,000 to individual municipalities to study potential brownfield sites, with the goal of remediation.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the grant would be a “huge benefit to the community of New Cassel and the revitalization of the area.”

“Being able to conduct in-depth environmental studies and assessments is pivotal to attract both new residents and developers to fulfill the community’s vision for enhancing community facilities while creating a more attractive, walkable and livable New Cassel,” Bosworth said in a news release.

In the town’s 2013 application to the EPA, several target sites — such as former auto repair shops and gas stations, mostly located south of Railroad Avenue — were bookmarked as possible brownfield sites. Others are vacant lots or abandoned homes. The most common sources of contamination were associated with prior use, such as holding chemical storage tanks, according to town documents.

The properties initially selected by the town were “expected to have a high impact” on the New Cassel area by being developed into taxpaying real estate and spurring more revitalization in the hamlet, according to town documents.

Town spokeswoman Rebecca Cheng said town officials are “currently working with the EPA to create a final listing for sites that would be up for remediation.”

The assessments will determine what remediation is necessary, according to Michael Levine, the town’s commissioner of planning.

“We will be working with the EPA’s project representative to come up with a strategy within the next few months,” Levine said.

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