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Schaffer calls on state to raze vacant aircraft buildings, remediate site to spur development

An abandoned building and a water tower on

An abandoned building and a water tower on Conklin Street in East Farmingdale are dilapidated and partially obscured by trees and brush. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Buildings near Republic Airport that housed operations for the once booming aircraft industry have sat vacant for decades, abandoned and dilapidated, and Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer wants them razed.

Schaffer recently asked Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers to demolish the three buildings on state property, clean up the site and develop it.

The three buildings and a water tower on the Conklin Street property between Route 110 and New Highway in East Farmingdale are partly obscured by trees and brush, but the largest building’s rusty shell and broken windows peek through.

“These buildings have been unsecured and vacant for over 25 years and constitute an eyesore and are a potential environmental and safety hazard to the community,” Schaffer wrote in  his July 31 letter to state officials.

On the westernmost portion of the property, close to the busy Route 110 commercial corridor, is a mulching company, which Schaffer also wants removed.

“The current brownfield condition, with dilapidated structures and an inappropriately located solid waste facility for wood processing, does not help make the site attractive to potential private interests to redevelop,” Schaffer wrote.

Cuomo’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

The property is in the district represented by Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), who said he  would send the state Department of Transportation — which owns the site — a letter of support.

“It is, number one, an eyesore," Brooks said. "Some of those buildings are in what I consider hazardous condition."

DOT spokesman Glenn Blain said Wednesday that, "We are looking at ways to redevelop the property and are committed to working with the impacted communities to ensure they have input in the process.”

Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights) “stands ready to work in conjunction with New York State and the town to ensure that these blights can be removed and redeveloped in an environmentally sound way that will benefit the local community,” chief of staff Brendan Cunningham said in a statement.

Ken Neubeck, president of the Republic Airport Historical Society and a Fairchild Republic engineer until the East Farmingdale plant closed in 1987, said Fairchild occupied two buildings, and, in its plant, Aircraft Finishing Corp. applied finishes like Alodine, used to protect aluminum from corrosion, and paint, on the planes.

“They dumped a lot of bad stuff into the ground,” Neubeck said. “I think whoever wants to do something with it has to deal with the remediation there.”

A spokeswoman with the state Department of Environmental Conservation said that "the property is not in the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program" and that more testing would be needed  before any development is begun.

"Underground storage tanks, waste and other materials were removed as part of earlier cleanups under DEC oversight," she said. "Additional testing would be required to determine if further remediation would be warranted prior to any proposed development."

Fires in January 2007, May 2008 and May 2015 made the buildings more unsafe, said Joseph Scura, district administrator for the East Farmingdale Fire Department.

The fire department is unsure which fire was in which building, but Scura said each blaze was deemed suspicious.

“We’ve been trying to get those buildings out of there; they’re dangerous,” he said.

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