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Lindenhurst ire as site cleanup delayed

The trailer on East Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst.

The trailer on East Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst. (Feb. 28, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

The site, Lindenhurst residents say, has been a blight on the community for years.

"It just gets worse and worse," Irene Walter said of the trailer and former service station building. "It's an eyesore to the entire neighborhood."

Residents and officials are pressuring the owner to clean it up.

Originally owned by Jericho Marine, the property at 269 E. Montauk Hwy. was abandoned in 1995, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Bill Fonda, DEC spokesman, said it has numerous contaminants, including lead.

Suffolk County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said property taxes on the site have not been paid since 1988, and the lien is about $400,000. Babylon Town identified the lienholder as Mary Ann Murphy, owner of Call Murf Real Estate Co., which is housed in the trailer.

In 2000, Murphy entered into a voluntary cleanup program for the site; and in 2007, she was accepted into the DEC's Brownfield Cleanup Program, Fonda said.

The town issued Murphy a trailer permit in 2001, said town spokesman Tim Ruggeri, and renewed the permit annually until 2009, when the town issued Murphy summonses for violations such as no trailer permit, no certificate of occupancy for a real estate business, and debris. Since then, Murphy's attorneys have requested 18 adjournments, he said. The next court date is March 30.

"This site has been frustrating to us because this has been continuing for so many years," said Rich Groh, the town's chief environmental analyst.

Murphy said she is simply following DEC protocol.

"I have done everything possible to expedite the process," she said. "I've put a lot of money into this over the years, and I'm doing my best to clean up the property."

Fonda said the remediation has taken longer than needed given the extent of the contamination, which has not affected the public water supply. He said Murphy has missed deadlines and changed contractors, slowing the process.

The DEC threatened to end Murphy's enrollment in the Brownfield program after she left an open hole on the site for several months in late 2007, Fonda said. The DEC also has told her to remove the dilapidated service station building to expedite cleanup, he said.

"This is not a tremendously large site," he said. "But it has certainly taken a long time to clean up."

Fonda said the DEC is awaiting results from soil sampling and for Murphy to file a remedial work plan.

Marie Wild, board president for the nearby Narragansett Villas Condominium Association, said Murphy assured residents the site would be finished in a year. That was seven years ago.

Murphy said she is "working diligently" on the site. "I think everybody should be very happy that I am working very hard to get this property cleaned up," she said.

"In the beginning we were happy, but now we feel she's just stalling," Wild said. "People in the community are fed up."

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