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Oyster Bay Superfund site to become ballpark, officials say

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino unveils plans for the

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino unveils plans for the expansion of the Town of Oyster Bay's Ellsworth Allen Park, seen here, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

The town of Oyster Bay plans to begin construction of ballfields at the former Liberty Industrial Finishing Superfund site in Farmingdale next month, town officials announced Tuesday.

“What was once a national priority to the Environmental Protection Agency will soon be a community recreation and sports complex for our children and for our residents,” Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said at a news conference at the site Tuesday.

The land on Motor Avenue had been used for decades for manufacturing military aircraft parts and metal products, and was declared a Superfund site by the EPA. In 2014, after years of cleanup, the EPA declared the land was ready for development.

Funding for the park project, estimated to cost between $8 million and $9 million, is uncertain. The town has $5 million of funds that were previously borrowed for the project, public works Commissioner Richard Lenz said. Saladino said the town is seeking additional funding from Nassau County, New York State and the federal government.

The project is to be an expansion of the existing Ellsworth Allen park and include a softball field, baseball field, T-ball field and multipurpose field for sports teams. Planning was undertaken in 2011 and revised this year to reduce the scope of the project that had originally been expected to cost about $20 million, town officials said.

The town seized the land, made up of two parcels totaling 21.5 acres, through eminent domain in 2003 and 2010. The town has been in litigation with the former owners for more than a decade over compensation. The town paid $8.7 million for the two parcels, but last year a judge in New York State Supreme Court in Mineola ordered Oyster Bay to pay more than $30 million for one of them. The town has appealed that ruling.

The town said in financial documents earlier this year the value of the second parcel would be determined at trial. Saladino said Tuesday he did not know the status of that litigation.

Both parties have filed legal briefs and are waiting for the Appellate Court to schedule oral arguments in the first case, James Greilsheimer, a Manhattan-based attorney representing former property owner 55 Motor Avenue Company LLC, said Tuesday.

In the second case, Greilsheimer said both parties’ appraisers were preparing reports on the value of the land before negotiations and a possible trial. Greilsheimer said $4.5 million paid by the town was “too low.” If a judge uses the same formula of price per acre plus interest used in the first case, the town would owe an additional $10.6 million for the second parcel.

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