Calling it "the last chapter in the landfill story, and it's a long story," Town of North Hempstead Supervisor May Newburger last week announced the beginning of work to close the L5 Landfill in Port Washington. Projects already completed around and on the Morewood property on Hempstead Harbor are the capping, closing and remediation of the L4 Superfund Landfill, the construction of a state-of-the-art transfer station, bluff stabilization to critical areas of the property, the addition of an award winning golf complex and a nature trail.
At a news conference held on Nov. 17, Supervisor Newburger said that by using in-house labor, North Hempstead will save more that $6 million of the projected $14 million cost of the capping of L5. She credited the town's Commissioner of Public Works, Matt Miner, with the initiative to see that the town could do the job with its own labor and save millions of dollars.
It was L5 that, in 1991, caused the odor problems that were of serious concern to residents of Port and of the Flower Hill section of Manhasset. Since that time a gas collection system has been installed and is operable. Once an impermeable liner is installed there should be no further problems. Vegetation will be planted above this liner. The Landfill will be monitored for 30 years after it is finally capped. Supervisor Newburger stressed the fact that the town has installed a "pump and treat" system at the landfill. "The town has done all it can to preserve Port Washington's water," she said.
The town workers began the removal of vegetation from the Landfill on Oct. 16. They are presently re-grading the site. Over the course of the winter the contractor will place the liner and town workers will put one-and-a-half feet of soil on top of the liner.
The closing and capping of the Landfill requires work on three fields. Field one and two will be completed by Sept. 1, 2001 and field three by 2003.
On Nov. 20, State Senator Michael Balboni joined State Department of Conservation (DEC) Chairman Thomas Cahill atop L5 to announce a $2 million grant to the Town of North Hempstead to help close the site. "Today we help turn blight into beauty with the closure of the Port Washington Landfill," said Senator Balboni. "We are fulfilling the vision of the Bond Act by giving Long Island communities the financial resources they need to keep their environments clean and their residents healthy." The grant is part of funds made available to Long Island through the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act and the State Environmental Protection Fund. With the support of Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli, the Town received another $1 million of state funds, bringing the state contribution to the project to $3 million.
Supervisor Newburger reminisced that it was in 1984 when she was chair of the New York State Assembly's Water Resources Committee that the Landfill Law was passed by the state legislature. This law required that all Long Island landfills be closed. "Sarah Meyland (executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment) really educated me," she said. "When you live on top of your reservoir, you have to be careful."
Supervisor Newburger pointed with pride to the town's Harbor Links Golf Complex and to the beginnings of a nature trail that will wend from Bar Beach to Roslyn Harbor. "Real estate agents say homes in Salem (the area of Port Washington that overlooks the landfill) have gone up 30 percent since the golf course was built."