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Proposed Roslyn water-treatment facility passes state Senate

Legislation allowing the Roslyn Water District to build a facility in a county-owned park to treat water contamination in one of its wells edged forward Thursday with a vote in the State Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and passed 56-2, would allow the district to use 0.44 acre in Christopher Morley Park to build an air stripper, which removes pollutants from water.

Identical legislation sponsored by Assemb. Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck), is advancing in the Assembly.

The district is building the facility to address contamination at its Roslyn Estates well, which has been shut since Freon 22 was found in the water last year.

The refrigerant can damage the central nervous system at high levels, and chronic exposure can cause heart problems.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation said in March that it planned to investigate the source of the pollution. A DEC spokesman could not be immediately reached yesterday.

The original plans were to build the air stripper -- which removes chemicals from water by evaporation -- next to the Diana's Trail wellhead, but there was an outcry from neighboring property owners concerned about the facility sending Freon into the air, even at levels that were deemed safe. The district then proposed the park site, about 500 feet away.

In February, the North Hempstead Town Board approved $20.9 million in bonds for the district, including about $4 million for the air stripper.

The district and the county are currently in negotiations over the price of the parkland, according to the district's attorney, Peter Fishbein. Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2015.

The county has said that it plans to earmark any money it receives for 98-acre Christopher Morley Park.

The parcel, on the north end of the park, "has limited public access" and "will not detract from the park's recreational activities" or character, according to a memo attached to Martins' bill.

Adam Krupp, who lives adjacent to the tainted well, expressed gratitude to legislators and other public officials Thursday. "I'm pleased it's going through," he said.

But some residents and park advocates have expressed concern over the use of public parkland for the air stripper.

"It really will change the character of the park," said Joshua Dicker, who lives nearby.

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