Hundreds of concerned residents jammed into the Clinton G. Martin Community Center for a hearing held, last week, by North Hempstead Town and the Village of Lake Success regarding the controversial development of the Lockheed Martin property. The property in question is 93 acres situated between Lakeville Road and Marcus Avenue. Forty-three acres are located in the Village of Lake Success and 50 acres in the Town of North Hempstead
The property was originally designed and built by the United States Government and was operated under a contract with Sperry Gyroscope Company from 1941 to 1951. In 1951, the property was sold to Sperry, which merged with Burroughs in 1986 to form Unisys Corporation. In 1995, Loral Corporation acquired the assets of Unisys Defense Systems, a division of Unisys Corporation. In early 1996, the electronics and systems integration of Loral were purchased by Lockheed Martin Corporation, which currently owns and occupies the property.
The site was an active manufacturing facility from its start-up in 1941 until 1995 when the majority of the manufacturing activities ceased. A portion of the site housed the headquarters of the United Nations before their building on the east side was ready for occupancy.
The site, under the ownership of Unisys Corporation, was placed on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Registry as an inactive hazardous waste site due to the presence of contaminants in the subsurface environment of both soil and groundwater. Therefore, all environmental work on the site is conducted under the oversight of the NYSDEC. On Dec. 13, 1991, Unisys entered into a Consent Order issued by the NYSDEC for Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study and Interim Remedial Measures on the site. The purpose of conducting the RI was to define the nature and extent of soil and groundwater contamination both on site OU-1 and off site OU-1.
With the approval of the NYSDEC, Unisys Corporation implemented interim remedial measures to minimize any risk to public health and the environment during the performance of RI/FS. IRM activities at this site consist of (1) Groundwater recovery and treatment using granular activated carbon and air strippers and on-site reinjection of treated groundwater. The groundwater IRM has been in operation since April 1993.
This data and more is included in the draft scope of work that was necessary to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the property and was handed out to all in attendance and is available at North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset. Anyone who wished could speak to the subject. The purpose of a EIS is to identify the impact that the development will have on the environment.
According to Hofstra Professor Julian Kane, a ground water expert, "The contaminated groundwater moves both north and south to show up in monitoring and public supply wells outside the property. The Western Nassau Water Authority, the Manhasset/Lakeville Water District are affected and the two new wells being installed by the Great Neck North Water Authority on the Whitney Estate lie downgradient and almost directly north in a straight line from Lockheed through Manhasset/Lakeville's impacted wells."
North Hempstead Supervisor May Newburger made a very short statement explaining that the officials from the town and from the Village of Lake Success and Lockheed were present just to hear the residents concerns regarding the project. Newburger then turned the hearing over to Lake Success Mayor Robert Bernstein who acted as moderator.
Mayor Bernstein explained that the board of trustees of the Village of Lake Success have declared themselves a lead agency in accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act, better known as SEQA for the portion of the property in Lake Success. The Town Board of North Hempstead has declared itself lead agency in the portion of property within its jurisdiction. Bernstein said that both lead agencies have issued positive declarations requiring the preparation of a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement. The purpose of the DEIS is to identify and analyze the expected impact of the redevelopment project on the environment, natural resources and human environment.
Bernstein continued, "Because of the importance of this property and the significance of the proposed redevelopment to the community the village and the town decided to conduct a joint public scoping process to elicit the comments of involved agencies and interested parties regarding the issues that should be analyzed in the DEIS statement."
Mayor Bernstein went on, "The Village of Lake Success has hired consultants, a planner, a traffic consultant and a hydrologist and they are advising the village on this project."
He went on to say that the applicant has, in accordance with SEQA regulations, prepared a Draft Scope which sets forth what the applicant proposes to include in the draft. He said that the purpose of "this evening's" meeting is for the village and town as "lead" agencies to accept public comment on the suitability of the draft scope submitted by the applicant so that all relevant issues will be addressed. Additional written comments will be accepted by both lead agencies until, today, Jan. 29.
Many residents signed cards that allowed them to speak and expressed their knowledge about the property and their concerns about the danger of the development of the property which has been designated in part as contaminated.
One resident, a former worker with Sperry and Unisys gave first hand comments on what he said he witnessed being dumped into the ground, which he stated were serious contaminants.
Julian Kane, a Great Neck resident, who has already been quoted above added, "The Lockheed Martin hazardous waste site's severely contaminated aquifer is being remediated by pumping, treating and reinjecting the ground water. This process will have to continue for many decades or more, before the water quality there might be restored. However, Lockheed Martin is unfortunately allowed to use fences and signs instead of removal or treatment to deal with the witch's brew of toxic substance in the muds underlying three drainage points in the pits on the property which leak out to the underlying aquifers."
Professor Kane continued, "Amazingly, the State DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) which has prime jurisdiction over the ground water cleanup efforts has approved the use of fencing and signs to keep people out of the ponded waters and away from the surrounding soils that could be extremely hazardous to trespassers. The fences will not be patrolled, and they could be easily cut by anyone desiring access. No remediation or removal of the contaminants is planned. Lockheed maintains that the ponded waters do not leak down to the aquifers. But they are undoubtedly leaking, and carrying their dissolved toxic chemicals along with them. Otherwise, the ponds would fill up their pits with water from rain and snowmelt and overflow to spill out onto the surrounding areas."
Kane went on, "There are 3,000 sumps (drainage basins) on Long Island to prevent storm waters from flooding streets, highways, homes and businesses, each surrounded by a fence with posted signs. Many have experienced break-ins for swimming in hot weather, and for picnicking, boozing, schmoozing or drug parties year-round. If people can get into fenced sumps, they will get into Lockheed's fenced drainage pits. Contamination in the Lockheed pits is much greater than in the county sumps even in industrial areas and include and include toxic metals such as arsenic, chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury and also cyanide and synthetic organic chemicals such as trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene and dibenzofurans."
Kane concluded, "In any case, Lockheed is now proposing to develop 84 of the 93 acres (valued at $35 million) as five office buildings, a hotel and conference center, a health and sports center, a geriatric center and senior citizen housing. Lockheed will retain the nine acres on which the contaminated drainage ponds are located. For the sake of the people in New Hyde Park, Lake Success, Great Neck and Port Washington whose well water is affected by groundwater flow from the Lockheed site, the aquifer remediation must continue and should include three drainage pits and ponds."
Community activist Marietta DiCamillo, of New Hyde Park, said, "I will state for the record that parcel 11, the supposed recharge basins, must be restored to community acceptable levels prior to this reuse proposal going forward. First and foremost, we must insist that our environment is safeguarded, groundwater protected, safety ensued; these must be the overriding issues over land development, the people. It is not satisfactory to just place warning signs on barbwired wired fences around the basins. Can you imagine what that would look like in our beautiful community? We must have a commitment by all those involved to do the right thing for this neighborhood. Nothing less is unacceptable!"
DiCamillo continued, "The draft impact statement for the Lockheed property reuse plan mentions different study "scenarios" in the event there would be no development. I hope that you will provide a detailed analysis on the methodology used. You are also analyzing the financial benefits to New York state, Nassau County, the Town of North Hempstead and the Village of Lake Success. Oddly, there are several other taxing jurisdictions that have been omitted and should be included in your analysis; namely, the water districts, fire districts and school districts. They, too, will gain from an increased tax base. They must be included. On the other side of the coin, perhaps a study should also be conducted to determine the financial benefits for the residents directly affected by this surrounding developing monster, the area south, called New Hyde Park, the same area whose residents will endure the seemingly endless hours of traffic jams, noise pollution, air pollution and far too many cars. One may ask, why aren't you studying the benefits to New Hyde Park? The answer is then painfully obvious, that's because there are none."
North Hempstead Task Force member, for the project, Jim McQue, who is also the President of the Park Civic Association, also made a statement outlining similar concerns to those of DiCamillo. All were filed and put into the record.
After the close of the public comment, when it was determined that everyone that wanted had a chance to speak, Bernstein said the village and town will review the comments received and will coordinate a final scope which the applicant will be required to follow when preparing the DEIS.
The Town of North Hempstead, some months ago, adopted a resolution that makes the 93 acre site eligible for designation as a Planned Unit Development (PUD) district. Such a district will accomplish six goals:
* To enable mixed use of this unique site which will preserve open areas and ensure orderly development.
* To provide a unique opportunity to serve townwide needs that are otherwise not being met or being met in only limited ways.
* To allow "balanced" development for complementary land uses, so that business employees, residents and visitors can work, live, shop and circulate outdoors in the same area.
* To complement neighboring land uses and transportation patterns, so as to prevent overcrowding of the site and minimize traffic congestion to the area.
* To increase tax revenues, provide new job opportunities, and produce economic development benefits in excess of the cost to the town and village, while making demands for additional educational, recreational, cultural and emergency services.
* To use alternative building proximity and placements to enhance the development's physical and visual effect.
To this end 84 acres of the property would be subdivided into 10 parcels ranging from 3.1 to 14.5 acres in size; the 9-acre recharge basin parcel would be retained by LMC and would continue to provide storm water retention.
The parcels on the plan indicates that the parcels would be used for the following:
* Parcels 1, 2, 4, 7 office space which includes a 3-story, 70,000 square foot building on Parcel 1, plus smaller 3-story office buildings on the other three parcels.
* A senior housing complex of 35,000 square feet (parcel 3) and approximately 300 units composed of three and 3-story buildings with modulated roof lines, porches and outsize gazebos.
* Up to a 450 room hotel/conference center (parcel 9) with attended parking which will offer extended stay and full service facilities.
* An office and geriatric complex, providing 120,000 square feet of office space on three levels and a 100,000 square foot, approximately 150 bed geriatric nursing center and attended parking (parcel 8).
* A structured parking facility.
* An up to 80,000 square foot health/sports club (parcel 10).
* Community shops and restaurants (parcels 5 and 6) to serve the site, such as branch banking, gift shops, boutiques and a deli/cafe, in a small, one story attached or semi-attached buildings with landscaped walkways.
Forty percent of the sites' 84 developable acres would be open and planted with trees, shrubs, lawns and landscaping. According to the proposed plan only 60 percent would be built with either a structure or parking lot. The plan also includes a three acre park stretching along the south side of Marcus Avenue adjacent to the hotel and a perimeter park of about two acres which would be connected to the senior's community site.
An access boulevard, newly developed for the project, would run north/south through the property from Marcus to Union Turnpike and would serve as the main traffic corridor through the site. The boulevard, with its 20 foot green would relieve congestion from Lakeville Road, Marcus Avenue and Union Turnpike while serving the access and circulation requirements of the site's inner parcels.
Overall implementation of the proposed plan will require zoning-related approvals from the Town of North Hempstead and the Village of Lake Success and subdivision approval from Nassau County for the portion of the site within the town and that is why the parcel is subject to a SEQR since the project has the potential for significant environmental impact.
Therefore, a Task Force has been appointed by the town consisting of 13 individuals representing the Town of North Hempstead, the Village of Lake Success, civic stakeholders and the project sponsor to consider the issues that arise during the SEQR process and review of the project's application.