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Town orders longtime Lindenhurst eyesore demolished

The dilapidated building at 269 E. Montauk Highway

The dilapidated building at 269 E. Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst, right, is pictured beside Call Murph Real Estate. (Oct. 3, 2013) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

A longtime eyesore in Lindenhurst is slated for demolition, but questions remain about who will take care of contamination on the site.

Last month, after long-standing complaints from residents about lack of progress at the site, the Babylon Town Board ordered the decaying structure at 269 E. Montauk Hwy. taken down.

But first, said town spokesman Kevin Bonner, the town wants the land cleared of a trailer that houses Call Murf Real Estate Co. Its owner, Mary Ann Murphy, has been given 60 days to remove the trailer, Bonner said.

The town has received a letter from her attorney that she will comply.

While Murphy has informed the state Department of Environmental Conservation that she will no longer work to remediate the property, she declined to comment to Newsday about the cleanup, saying only that "in a couple of months the truth will be told." She added that she "would never do anything to harm this community."

Mario Braga, 70, board president for the nearby Narragansett Villas Condominium Association, said he's "very happy" the building will be torn down. "I don't want her to lose her business, but hopefully she can open up somewhere else."

As for how the site will be cleaned, DEC officials said they are considering remediation but that the site could also be bought by a private developer.

Suffolk County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said if the property is approved for the county's land bank, a nonprofit corporation could take title and remediate the site without having to pay the full amount of the back taxes.

Property taxes on the site were last paid in 1988, and the lien is about $478,000, Baird-Streeter said.

The county had worked out a 12-year repayment program without interest for the taxes with Murphy, but Murphy backed out, Baird-Streeter said.

In August, the DEC received a letter from Murphy stating that she was dropping out of the its Brownfield Cleanup Program, to which she was accepted for the site in 2007.

Murphy stated that her companies had spent $120,000 in remediation and oversight costs and had been negotiating with the county for years in hopes of purchasing the site. But "it now looks like that may never happen."

As a result, she wrote, "We cannot continue to pay for this clean up when we may never own and be able to redevelop the site."

Murphy began running her business out of the trailer when the town issued her a permit in 2001 after Murphy entered into a voluntary cleanup program for the site.

DEC officials had long expressed frustration with the progress at the site under Murphy, noting that she missed deadlines and changed contractors, slowing the process.

In 2009, seeing no developments and realizing the permits were improperly granted, the town tried unsuccessfully to have Murphy's trailer removed.

According to a May 2013 report from the DEC, "weathered gasoline compounds" were still the primary concern at the site. While the groundwater is contaminated, residents get their water from a public water supply that is not affected, DEC officials have said.

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