The former Lawrence Aviation site in Port Jefferson Station, seen...

The former Lawrence Aviation site in Port Jefferson Station, seen here. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Demolition crews are expected to finish tearing down more than a dozen abandoned industrial buildings at a Port Jefferson Station Superfund site in about two weeks, clearing the way for a rail yard and solar farm, state environmental officials said Friday.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and its contractor have "generally completed" work at the site, with demolition and asbestos removal "scheduled to be completed by the end of the month," a DEC spokesman said.

Razing the last structures from the shuttered Lawrence Aviation Industries — the aircraft parts manufacturer that left behind barrels of toxic waste and millions of dollars in unpaid debt when it closed in 2003 — is the latest milestone in redevelopment of the 126-acre site off Sheep Pasture Road, officials said. 

“For more than two decades, this community has had to live with this dilapidated, polluted property in their backyards," Suffolk County Executive Edward Romaine said in a statement Friday. Romaine's spokesman earlier Friday said the project was completed. 

The $1.5 million effort to demolish 15 Lawrence Aviation buildings began last fall as part of a $48.1 million state cleanup of the site. The DEC said Friday the cleanup is expected to continue through the end of the year. 

Lawrence Aviation owner Gerald Cohen had been ordered to pay the cleanup costs and other debts including back taxes before he died in 2020. A federal court transferred the land to the nonprofit Suffolk County Landbank, which is selling off about two-thirds of the property to repay Cohen's debts. 

Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman and CEO Janno Lieber told state lawmakers last month the agency had reached a tentative deal to buy about 40 acres from the land bank for an undisclosed sum. He called the Lawrence site “the best opportunity to create a yard” for the Port Jefferson line.

On Friday, MTA spokesperson Kayla Shults said the purchase was not yet finalized.

"We continue to work with the Suffolk County Landbank and county officials to secure this site for potential future transit improvements," she said.

Suffolk and Brookhaven Town officials have asked the MTA to relocate the Long Island Rail Road's Port Jefferson train station to the Lawrence site and electrify the Port Jefferson branch. MTA officials have yet to publicly respond.

Area residents and officials have said moving the train station, currently about a mile east of the Lawrence site, would remove chronic traffic jams on Route 112 when trains pull into the station.

“Moving the train station would stop the gates from being constantly down on 112," Brookhaven Supervisor Dan Panico said Friday. “Electrification is something we should continue to push for, but ultimately it’s up to the MTA.”

About one third of the Lawrence site will be sold for $5 million to a White Plains solar farm developer, and about 42 acres will be preserved as open space, Suffolk officials said last fall.

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