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Waldbaums ‘Superfund’ Site

Ask pretty much anyone in the Farmingdale community about the biggest eyesore in the area, and most likely, they will reply with a single, solitary word: Waldbaums. 

 

The spot those residents would be referring to, of course, is the former Waldbaums Shopping center located on Main Street. With its boarded-up windows and gutted storefronts, the strip mall—currently without an owner and completely vacant for some time, except for a Chinese take-out restaurant that is currently squatting—has many locals crying foul over its dilapidated appearance. However, the real issue lies, not in what people can see, but what they cannot. 

 

Among the stores that had previously called the Waldbaums Shopping Center home, the Farmingdale Plaza Cleaners, unfortunately left its mark on the community in the form of an underground toxic plume containing tetrachloroethene, or PCE, which is a colorless liquid used in dry cleaning. Although the establishment has been gone for some time now, as a result of the inaction by the dry cleaner's former owners to do anything about the ground contamination, the Walbaums Shopping Center has been classified as a

"Superfund" site and is now under the jurisdiction of a United States federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances using governement funds. 

 

On March 11, the Village of Farmingdale held a public hearing with the New York State Department of Environmental Conversation to present a proposed plan to clean-up the Waldbaums site. According to Bill Fonda, a citizen participation specialist with the state

DEC, public opinion on the proposed clean-up plan is encouraged and will be taken into consideration until March 24, meanwhile the DEC will make its final decision before April 1. 

 

“If approved, we will contact contractors and consultants to evaluate the site and design a plan,” Fonda said. “That process usually takes up to a year to complete, at which time we will break ground and begin to pump out the contaminants.”

 

NYSDEC’s Chek Beng Ng gave an overview of the history of Farmingdale Plaza Cleaners at the Waldbaums site, which opened its doors once the shopping center was constructed in 1983, and when United States Environmental Protection Agency testing was

conducted in 2000 it was discovered that there was a significant amount of tetrachloroethene in the soil and groundwater in the area, and that the dry cleaners was the likely source, Ng said, although the pollution was most probably inadvertent and unintentional.

 

“In 2002, the site was listed as a Class 2 site on the New York State DEC Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites,” he said. “In 2005, the potentially responsible parties failed to sign an Order of Consent and the site was referred to the State Superfund for Remedial Investigation.”

 

Ng pointed out that the contamination in the area is in no way affecting the drinking water of Farmingdale residents; the trajectory of the toxic plume does not place it near any drinking water wells, he said. 

 

Bridget Callaghan Boyd, of the New York State Department of Health, held a brief presentation at the meeting that concurred with Ng’s safety estimation.

 

“Contact with contaminated soil or groundwater is not likely,” she said. “The contamination is located at a depth below concrete or building foundations, and the area is served by public water that originated away from the site.” 

 

However, the plume continues to slowly spread, and to do something about it once and for all, Ng unveiled several potential strategies that the NYSDEC has considered, and the one that they had finally decided on to combat it. 

 

“The remedial alternative we are proposing is modified pump and treat with long-term monitoring, which will cost approximately $1,631,000,” he said. “We will design and install a groundwater extraction system, place extraction wells at the leading edge of the

highest PCE concentration, treat the extracted water with granular-activated carbon filters, and monitor the area for five years afterward.”

 

In the meantime, since any entity that purchases the property will be forced to take on a portion of the cost of cleaning up the groundwater contamination, it is likely that the Waldbaums Shopping Center will remain vacant until such time as the clean-up is completed; the exact timetable for that, according to NYSDEC representatives at the meeting, is uncertain until they actually break ground and see first-hand what they’re dealing with.

 

Anyone wishing to weigh-in on the NYSDEC’s proposed plan to clean-up the Farmingdale Waldbaums site contamination, can email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

News

These days Long Island residents are trying to save a buck whenever and wherever they can, especially when it comes to property taxes. To try and lend a helping hand, Republican Sen. Kemp Hannon and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano recently teamed up for a property tax exemption workshop at the Farmingdale Public Library.

 

Communications Director Randolph Yunker with the Nassau County Department of Assessment explained that the workshops, which are held throughout the year in various communities, are a collaborative effort to bring the Nassau County Department of Assessments operations from Mineola to different communities, such as Farmingdale. He added that applications were on-hand in case any attendees were first-timers or pursuing a renewal of an existing exemption. 

If you stopped by the Farmingdale Public Library this past week, perhaps you noticed all of the paintings and art pieces currently on display. For the entire month of July, the library will feature the many styles of artist/poet Ruth Lawrence.

 

“I’ve been exhibiting for quite a few years,” said Lawrence, “I am always happy to show my work.”

 

Lawrence, 87, of East Meadow, said she first began painting at just 12 years old. She recalls, at the time her sister had been dating someone who worked at an art supply store, and had gotten her some oil-based paints as a present. 


Sports

Throughout the summer, the Farmingdale Observer will feature the box scores from the Farmingdale Baseball League Inc.’s 9/11 Baseball Tournament. 

July 6

Farmingdale Greendogs 7 - Seaford Vikings 6 (8U)

 

Syosset Cubs 18 - Plainview Hawks 1 (12U)

Runners and walkers from Farmingdale and all over Long Island and beyond are invited to join in the fun on one of the most unusual 5 Kilometer courses on Long Island at the Saturday, August 9th Lynn, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint.

 

The Run presents the Long Island running community with an opportunity to traverse a unique combination of paved paths and runner-friendly woodland trails at the Sands Point Preserve. 

 

The leading Nassau County law firm of Lynn, Gartner, Dunne & Covello has signed on to be the new lead sponsor of the event, with partner John Dunne and his wife planning on running the 5K distance. The Lynbrook Runner’s Stop will be back as the presenting sponsor.  


Calendar

Wounded Warrior Dinner - July 16

Youth Council Concert - July 17

Roller Rebels Tryouts - July 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com