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Babylon cleanup costs at site to go up

Costs for cleaning up a town-owned contaminated property in Wyandanch have increased to more than a half-million dollars, according to Babylon Town officials.

The remediation of 37 Commonwealth Ave. is being paid by the state Department of Environmental Conservation under the agency's Environmental Restoration Program. Rich Groh, the town's chief environmental analyst, said the town has owned the site for more than 50 years and believes it to have always been vacant during that time. Contamination of the site is limited to volatile organic compounds and metals, he said.

In April, the town awarded Gramercy Group Inc. of Wantagh the contract to take care of the cleanup work at the 1.3 acre site. Groh said the company has been excavating and replenishing soil on the property since December. Initial state calculations called for 4,200 cubic yards of soil excavation, he said, but as work was done on the site, it became apparent that an additional 2,000 cubic yards of soil would have to be removed. The town contracted with Gramercy for $441,698, but the additional soil removal will add $122,500 to that cost, bringing the total to $564,198.

"Whenever you do environmental restoration work it always seems to be a wild card, there's always little surprises and cost increases," Groh said.

Town spokesman Kevin Bonner said the town has "yet to finalize payment for this additional soil remediation, but are optimistic that it will also be covered" by the DEC. Groh said work on the site should be completed this week.

Bonner said the town plans to use the property as open green space as part of its Wyandanch Rising downtown redevelopment.

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