Written by Patricia Aitken, email@example.com Friday, 28 March 2014 00:00
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a public meeting at the Locust Valley Library to discuss the possible remediation plans for the former Mill Neck Bay Marina property. The meeting was well attended by local residents, as well as Tara Butler Sahai of Assemblyman Chuck Lavine’s office, Mayor Doug Watson of the Village of Bayville, Nassau County Legislator Don McKenzie, representatives from the Town of Oyster Bay and local civic organizations, as well as Harvey Weisman, one of the owners of the property. Friends of the Bay was represented by Executive Director Paul D’Orsay, Board President Barry Lamb, and board member Matt Meng.
Bob Corcoran, of the Division of Environmental Remediation of the DEC, explained the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP) for the property, which includes results of soil and sediment testing and provides a characterization of the site and an assessment of current conditions.The site is 1.9 acres, and is currently divided into nine tax parcels, with space set aside for an extension of Meadow Lane through the middle of the property, which would provide access to all the parcels. At this point in time, the site is zoned for single family residential use. The marina, which operated until 2001, was given a special use variance to operate there. The marina pre-dated the current Town of Oyster Bay zoning.
The DEC found 21 metals at the site. Most of these metals are naturally occurring; however, five metals, including arsenic, mercury, lead, copper and cadmium, are present at higher levels than would be allowed if the site were to be restored for single family residential use. They would be acceptable for commercial use. Corcoran explained this by giving the example that if used for homes, homeowners would be digging into the ground to plant trees, or other kinds of activities that would disturb the soil, whereas commercial uses would not. He went on to say that the groundwater at the site has not been contaminated.
The zoning is an important consideration, as the DEC is required to see that the property is rezoned to the current land use conditions. According to a DEC factsheet distributed at the meeting, “The remedial objective for this site is to achieve residential use soil cleanup standards. This can be accomplished with the removal of all surface and subsurface soil which exceeds the residential use soil cleanup objectives.”
Estimated costs for this cleanup range from a high of $2,100,000 to achieve pre-disposal conditions, $1,600,000 for residential use, $353,000 for restricted residential use or $60,000 if the site was rezoned to commercial use. There were many questions from audience members as to who would pay for this cleanup, and what are the alternatives.
Once a remedial action plan is chosen, the state will proceed with the cleanup, regardless. If the owner is not willing to pay, the state will try to recover the costs from the owners. At this point, Weisman spoke up to say that of the four original owners, two are deceased, another has terminal cancer, and he is not well himself. He said he is willing to pay a reasonable cost for the cleanup, if the town is willing to purchase it.
Residents in the area expressed that they would like to see the area kept as open space, to be used as a passive park, for bird watching, possibly as a kayak launch. This would require a change of zoning from the Town of Oyster Bay, since the DEC is obligated by law to restore the site to what it is currently zoned for. This point was reiterated several times during the evening by DEC representatives.
Other concerns expressed by the local residents included what changes may happen to the flow of the groundwater during the cleanup, if homes are constructed there would that cause a backup of water into their homes, and how the soil would be contained on the property during the remediation process.
In response to questioning from residents, the DEC said that if the town gave a commitment to the DEC that the property would be rezoned to allow its use as a park, then they could recommend a remediation plan which would allow that use. Without a commitment to rezone the property, they are obligated by state law to restore the property to single family residential use.
It will be at least a year before any work is done. The DEC wants to choose a plan by March 31; however, if they receive many comments on the proposed plan, or depending on what course the Town of Oyster Bay may wish to pursue with regard to zoning, that may change.