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New use proposed for contaminated site in Roslyn Heights

State officials say it is unclear how the

State officials say it is unclear how the Jane Street property in Roslyn Heights became contaminated. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A developer wants to build a self-storage facility in place of a dilapidated building on contaminated property in Roslyn Heights where industrial products were manufactured.

Representatives of Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development Group touted the project as one that would transform a “neighborhood eyesore” into a profitable business that provides jobs and generates taxes.

Brad Blumenfeld, BDG’s vice president, said the project poses “little to no impact on the nearby residents” and would “turn a negative into a positive.”

“It has been a blighted building with broken windows,” Blumenfeld said in a phone interview. “We are going to make it safer and clean.”

The site plan, which the North Hempstead Town Board approved on Dec. 17, called for replacing the one-story warehouse on 71 Jane St. with a four-story, 98,000-square-foot structure. The developer said the project would also add and restore 22-foot-wide landscape buffers to separate the parking lot and residential homes between Donald and Jane streets.

The site borders residential homes, an apartment complex, a public park and Long Island Rail Road tracks, and its redevelopment has raised concerns of potential health impacts on the community. The property is considered a brownfield site — an abandoned property that may contain hazardous substances — and was accepted by the state's Brownfield Cleanup Program in August. 

The state Department of Environmental Conservation, which oversees the remediation efforts, said the contaminants on site are “chlorinated solvents and semi-volatile organic compounds in soil and air,” though it remains unclear as to what and who caused the contamination. 

Since at least 1949, several companies had used the 1.3-acre property before it became vacant in 2013.

The site’s original tenant, The Tiffen Company, manufactured filters and lens accessories for the movie and television industries. Later, Darmex Industrial made industrial lubricants and maintenance chemicals on the property. Its last two occupants were a furniture restoration company and GM Equipment Industries.

Michael Modica, who lives on Jane Street, asked at last week’s public hearing whether the contaminants are airborne and if they might be released during demolition and construction.

Raffaela Petrasek, BDG’s director of community and government affairs, said the contaminants are isolated to the footprint of the building, and the company will take precautions when removing the contaminated soil.

“The issues we have at the site are soil contaminants and soil vapor. Most of those issues are confined to the building,” Petrasek said. “Things do not actually … migrate out to the site and the parking area.”

BDG representatives reiterated that the new operation would be the “least impactful” use, saying the storage facility would generate little traffic and improve the site. At least one town council member agreed.

“I think the fact [is] that that property can be and will be developed,” Councilman Angelo Ferrara said. “The proposal is to put something in there that's less intrusive than any other business that they can put in as of right.” 

The public can comment on a Supplemental Remedial Investigation Work Plan early next year after DEC receives a revised version from BDG.

Next steps

  • The DEC is waiting for a revised Supplemental Remedial Investigation Work Plan from the applicant.
  • Once the updated work plan is received, the DEC and the state Department of Health will review the plan and begin a 30-day public comment period, which is expected to take place in early 2020.
  • The public can comment again once site investigation is completed and a cleanup plan is proposed.

Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation