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Westbury, New Cassel Residents Tired of Dust, Odors in Homes

Poets Corner Neighborhood Association hosts October 18 forum

Residents from New Cassel and Westbury dealing with dust and odor problems gathered at the Westbury Community Center on Oct. 18 and discussed ways to improve the quality of life in the area.

“We just try to keep our small piece of Westbury in order and looking nice and keep all of our members happy and safe,” said Stan Ercolano, president of the Poets Corner Neighborhood Association (PCNA), the organization that hosted the meeting.

Carol Bright, a New Cassel resident and community activist, contacted PCNA to address some of the air quality issues posed from residents living near Grand Boulevard, according to Bright.

“Several years ago, I couldn’t understand why certain times in the morning and at night I’d smell this horrible stench coming from the Grand Boulevard commercial area. It would go and come, come and go, and I couldn’t understand it. Problem number two was the dust in my house – if not on my counter, on my table, on our cars.”

Bright said she voiced her frustrations with the Town of North Hempstead, the New York State Assembly, Nassau County Department of Health and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

As a result, Bright said a moratorium to halt any future business growth in the area was suggested to the Town of North Hempstead Building Department. Residents wishing to have the DEC analyze test samples from their homes should call the Odor Complaint Hotline at (631) 444-0380, Bright added.

One resident from Irving Street in Westbury said it’s difficult for her to bear the smell outside her house in the summer.

“If you want to put your house up for sale, you have to pray for a day where there’s no smell because nobody will buy your house. It has ruined our neighborhood. Have one of the elected officials live in our houses, they won’t last a day,” she said. 

Present at the meeting was a representative from the NYS Environmental Conservation, Aphrodite Montalvo, who said that her office needs two to three dry days before samples can be taken. After that, analysis takes two to three weeks, and that will help determine which site poses the greatest issue.

“What the law does say is that any sort of odors should not unjustly impact any neighboring areas. It’s sort of a gray area, but you should not be affected either way,” said Montalvo, who noted “decomposing clippings” like grass and leaves produce the most noticeable smell during the summer.

“The more voices you have, the better chance you have of doing something. Anybody who has these odors, call in, and we’ll send someone out to check it,” said Montalvo.

Westbury School Assistant Superintendent for Business and Management Services Michael Batkiewicz was present at the meeting and hopes to have affected schools tested in the near future.

Candidate for Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Lee Tu was also at the meeting. He likened the situation to Port Washington’s three-story parking garage ordeal, ultimately citing the power of community in matters such as these.

“This is not up for debate. This is something we all agree with: it stinks, it’s dirty and it’s possibly dangerous. We have to make some fundamental changes – not just mask the issue. We need to spread the word because it’s only in numbers that we’re going to be effective,” said Ercolano.