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Talks resume on razing vacant buildings, water tower near Republic Airport

A water tower and three vacant buildings on

A water tower and three vacant buildings on Conklin Street between Route 110 and New Highway near Republic Airport are the structures Babylon Town officials have asked the state to demolish, clean up and develop.  Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Talks have resumed between Babylon Town and the state Department of Transportation to raze three vacant buildings and a water tower, which housed operations for a former aircraft company near Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, Supervisor Rich Schaffer said.

Schaffer asked state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in a July 2019 letter to demolish, clean up and develop the buildings on the Conklin Street property between Route 110 and New Highway, which is owned by the state DOT. Schaffer said talks, which were sidetracked when the coronavirus pandemic started in early 2020, began again in late December.

"We restarted the conversation with state DOT and asked them can we start coming up with a timeline for how we would deal with this property," Schaffer said.

State DOT spokesman Joseph Morrissey said "the scope of work to determine potential environmental and demolition considerations is under development."

Of the buildings, which are rusted and contain broken windows, two of them were occupied by Fairchild Republic until it closed in 1987, Ken Neubeck, a Fairchild engineer and president of the Republic Airport Historical Society, has said previously.

State Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Maureen Wren said in a statement that underground storage tanks, waste and other materials were removed as part of earlier cleanups under DEC oversight.

"Additional testing would be required to determine if further remediation would be warranted prior to any proposed development," Wren said.

Cuomo’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

If razed, Schaffer said the goal would be to put out a request for proposals for the abandoned site, which would incorporate a state vision plan issued in 2005 for 40 acres of redevelopment. In 2010, then-Supervisor Steve Bellone increased the plan to include 120 acres. In October 2018, the 2010 plan was scrapped in response to community opposition. At the time, Schaffer said Babylon would look at the 2005 plan on a "parcel by parcel basis."

State Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford) said he supports razing the property, which is in his district, and having the property developed so it becomes an asset to the community.

"If we bring something that creates jobs and meshes, if you will, with the immediate area in terms of the airport and congestion we see on [Route] 110, I think that’s worth looking at," Brooks said. "It has to be able to marry into that community, not a directional change."

Civic leaders said they’re hopeful that work gets done to raze the buildings.

"The community would love to see it get razed, but we’re curious to see what gets developed there," said Nancy Cypser, a trustee of the Woodland Civic Association in East Farmingdale.

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